I work at Barnes & Noble. It's three days until Christmas. Today, a customer asked me, "You guys busy today?" . . . the fact that I didn't completely offend him with the look on my face is a Christmas miracle. Could he not look around? Could he not visibly see all the misplaced piles of books, calendars and cards? The crowded store filled with wet and frantic customers? The HUGE stack of book lights I was holding and trying to get around him to put away? The frazzled look on every employees face? - I don't know why he said it, I tend to dismiss a lot of the customers I encounter as just not quite having it all together, like the lady who did not realize that we have an "up-stairs" despite the fact that she was standing beside the escalator. Yet I am called to love these people, to serve them and be kind to them by not only my boss, but by my own personal convictions and by my darling Lord. It bothers me that at Christmas time we celebrate Jesus coming to the earth out of His love for us and that I struggle so much to love others in relatively simple ways.
While no one yelled at me today, should I use that as my measurement of the days success? No, it's true that people are crazy, well, a lot of them are crazy and if the crazy ones yell at me they were probably planning on doing so when they walked in and not in actual response to something I did. However, I forget to look back on my day and reflect on how well I helped people, if I even did well at all. Shouldn't that be my focus? The fact is that I have two days of madness left at the bookstore frightens me. It is constant chaos as seeming busloads of people shove themselves through our doors and crowd the aisles. However, these two days give me 16 more hours of opportunity to relax in the chaos, to look people in the eye, assist them, go above and beyond, and put the book they need in their hand.
I work in a great place where we sell information, experiences of all kinds, wisdom and help. How many places sell things like that? Yes, we also sell things like the "Fart Book" (which is actually our No. 1 employee recommended seller - how's that for a heart-breaker?), but I like to overlook that aspect of the store and just laugh at the fact that silly people like my mom would get a kick out of a farting book. It's just more proof that there really is a book for everyone.
But to get on with it, I am pledging here with you as my witness, that I will share the themes of Christmas to the very best of my ability with my customers over these next two days. The themes: Joy, family, cheer and the Good News that Linus is so good to remind us of.
So if you come into Barnes & Noble on these last two shopping days before Christmas and find me, I will do my best to help you and leave you happy that you came in. I want others to feel Christmas in my attitude, see it in my eyes, and hear it in my tone and carefully thought out words. I will report back on how it all goes and relax tonight in the glow of my Christmas tree and the knowledge that no grinchy customer can snatch away the True Meaning of Christmas - and you know how I love meaning.
And in order to ensure a great experience for us both, here are just a few tips I wish I could give to every shopper (you don't have to read this, it just helps me vent really):*It helps when you know the title or even just the author of the book you are looking for. Clues or hints like, "the book was blue," or "there was a girl on the cover" are not helpful. *As you shop be kind to the employees just in case they really are trying to help you. *If you are treated badly by an employee, try and understand that it may be because they were just treated badly - there are grinches in this world and while they won't ruin Christmas, they may ruin an hour or two of work time. *Don't ask us to shop for you. *Finally, and for heaven's sake, please do not stop us in the midst of the chaos to ask if we are busy!