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The bright side of the garbage juice stain

Anonymous • Mar 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM

The key turns, perhaps a bit grudgingly. Winter's wind is whipping around you and your hands are full of bags. Nearly at the point of uttering an oath, it gives and the dark building opens to you. There's a scramble to balance what you have versus the need to disarm the security system blaring around you. After, the lights are turned on illuminating shelves, bins, and accumulated goods. "It's another day," you may think to yourself as you pick your mail off the floor and see it's more bills and solicitations.

The till needs checked, the trash taken out, and perhaps the bathroom needs service. As you avoid garbage juice dripping on your carpet, wipe down your displays again, make/receive copious calls to/from distributors, or perhaps as you are vacuuming up a mess, you come to this story's quote from 1994's black and white comedy "Clerks."

Dante Hicks: I'm not even supposed to be here today!

Yet, here you are wiping up the results of a storm trooper using your restroom. (In addition to that, isn't it amazing how many people don't know how to flush in the year 2013? Yeesh...)

These feelings of drag and despair happen to us all, especially as a small business owner. For those of you who wish to own a business someday, or at least be in a position of authority within one, pay heed. The life isn't always the glitz and glamour it may be wished to be. By no means is this going to be a negative or discouraging article, however! You and I are too sick and tired of that stuff and I want to help as many of you as possible find the gumption and resources to take your employment into your own hands.

So as you do your chores let's look at the bright side. Every full trash can means people have been in your shop buying things. Or, if not their waste, it means you have been buying more items to turn around to them.  Don't get caught up in the malaise of breaking down boxes. While your shelves always appear stocked, it still means that you are affording to replace what you sell and maybe get in something new!

Every messy bathroom floor at least indicates there are people in your store, and, ability to aim aside, they are hopefully spending time and money. The faces may look the same, but the meaning is still real for them. Especially if they know you do the dirty work WHILE selling, ordering, planning, and accounting. It is humble and a good sign of leadership. Now, if you have someone else do that stuff, please be sure to thank them with more than a fee for their service.

Because you are most likely at your store almost every day things can seem repetitive and crushing, a dreary black and white world. You get in a groove and despite your independence as a self-employed businessperson and feel trapped. While your customers, even regulars, may only come in once or twice a week, here you are for the twenty-second day in a row. Let's break that doldrum!

If you don't already, ask your customers questions. "How's X doing?" "Nice shirt, you like Y?" "Hey, I read in the paper that Z, don't you do something like that? Can you explain it to me?" Not only does it broaden your horizons it shows your customers you care and are attentive. Your day passes more quickly, your interaction improves, and you have an empowered consumer left a bit better for his/her time as you are.

In the movie earlier (it's genre aside) most of the customer interaction was snarky, and the employees didn't seem to have much energy about the store. Don't let that happen to you! Even if you're "not supposed to be here today," there is always something you can do to find motivation and positive signs of success.

The last point is perhaps one of the most difficult sadly enough. TAKE A DAY OFF! Please. Do yourself, your employee(s), and customers a favor. Remember to be a human instead of a machine. Even if you have to close your shop for a day. If you break down, everyone loses you and your services. If you are ground down and still try your best ,you'll only be operating at a low, consistent rate of productivity instead of peak performance.

While they may not tell you directly, your customers' continued patronage that leads to messy floors and filled trash cans is a "thank you" for being who you are and what you do. For what it counts from me to you, thank you for your already running or in-the-works business ideas and patronage. This area needs your thoughts, investment, and energy and we can all look past the inglorious garbage juice stain on your pant leg to support you.

Let's smile a bit more with one more quoted scene from the movie. If we are all in this together as one, and we can share our commiserations to find a solution, it doesn't seem so frustrating after all, does it?

Randal Graves: You know who I can do without? I can do without the people in the video store.

Dante Hicks: Which ones?

Randal Graves: All of them.

[A series of vignettes from inside the movie store play.]

Bed Wetting Dad: What would you get for a 6-year-old boy who chronically wets his bed?

Video Confusion Customer: So, do you have any new movies in?

[Camera zooms out to see a huge sign that says "Brand New Movies" directly above her.]

Low I.Q. Video Customer: Do you have that one with that guy who was in that movie that was out last year?

Randal Graves: They never rent quality flicks. They always pick the most intellectually devoid movies on the racks.

Low I.Q. Video Customer: OOOOH! NAVY SEALS!

Randal Graves: It's like in order to join, they have to have an I.Q. less than their shoe size.

Dante Hicks: You think you get stupid questions? You should hear the barrage of stupid questions I get.

[Additional vignettes play only from the convenient store point of view.]

Cold Coffee Lover: What do mean there's no ice? You mean I gotta drink this coffee hot?

Candy Confusion Customer: So how much is this thing anyway?

[Another zoom out to see a huge "99¢" sign behind her.]

Hubcap Searching Customer: Do you sell hubcaps for a '72 Pinto hatchback? Ooh, Mini-Trucker Magazine!

P.S. - My favorite from my time at Cedar Point was, "When is the ten o'clock laser light show?" No matter how hot the day or anything else, it always made me smile to hear and answer. Stay positive!

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