Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gobble Gobble

I find myself this fine Thanksgiving morning with my family out of town and a dozen very cool ogres in need of painting. Unfortunately, the ogres are all metal for a change, and I've only got plastic glue. I figured while I procrastinate from going to the drug store to buy yet another bottle of glue, I would write something.

It occurred to me this morning that I've vacuumed about a million square feet of carpet in the last store. That's about ten Wal-Marts. I went through three vacuum cleaners in the process, an appliance I've learned is disposable in a retail setting. I can recall how it made me feel. At first I was elated to be running my own business. Then it turned to dread, as I found myself losing money, with student loans, a family and a mortgage, yet I was stuck with this vacuum cleaner. Eventually there was acceptance, and a return to pride, knowing that this was an integral part of running my business.

The Tibetan Buddhists have a similar spiritual practice for new adherents. They do 100,000 prostrations. That's several hundred miles! From a standing position, they drop down to their knees and bend all the way over to the floor. It's an exercise in humility, yet it also channels their energies for the task at hand. It's also a great weight loss program. Spiritual practice, like retail, is all about finding meaning and value in boredom and everyday activity. There are no quick results or ultimate breakthroughs.

Perhaps a new store owner should work on vacuuming, possibly a million square feet, before opening their store. I'm imagining this would be done in their retail career, working for someone else. I'm also beginning to think there's something relevant in the task for new employees. I now consider an employee with a vacuuming problem to be a serious issue, like counting change wrong or not greeting customers. It's an attitude problem that goes beyond training.

I better stop rambling and go get some glue!


  1. Gary, I don't know where you live, but it seems funny that you are going to the drug store for super glue, when you have probably at least $100 in super glue inventory already waiting for you in the store that you have already paid for...

    But of course with the price of gas, if the round trip distance is more than your miles per gallon, the drug store is probably the better place to buy.

  2. I live about 30 minutes from my store, so round trip is a couple gallons of gas.