maybe "rants" isn't the right word. these are simple thoughts about my life. some may be more colorful than others. some language may be offensive, but it depends on your definition of offensive. consider this your warning ;)

26 March 2014

PBDC Day 26/31: I Am Here

I'm playing the "artistic license" card on this one by not taking a photo to encapsulate the day. That, and I couldn't find the right composition to convey what I want to say. However, if you want the literal depiction...
Thanks to my wife for indulging me, because yes, when she took that photo I could honestly say, "I am here." And I also enjoy the illusion of my own beheading as my hooded head blends into the black night, despite seeing my full form in my shadow.

Thinking about it, I guess I did take a photo of where I was earlier this morning.
Shocker, I was at work, at the ON where we had an awesome one day sale for tee hoodies for the whole fam. (If you're reading this, the Old Navy nearest you is probably closed and the sale pictured above is no longer valid. Just saying.) If you missed out, sorry you missed out. But if you snagged a tee hoodie, or six, or for your entire family...high five!

But back to my stance on not denoting one photo as my Photo a Day submission for today...

I am here.

In no way am I attempting to say I'm an omnipotent being (nor is this a coded confession that I'm impotent). What I'm saying is that I am here at all times.

"I am here," is more than a declaration of my location.

"I am here," is a reminder to pay attention to your life, your environment, and to respect the time of those you have requested their time (or those that have requested yours).


In acting classes I've taken, and many rehearsals and performances, there are reminders among the cast members to be present in each performance. In each scene, and in every moment. Don't just recite lines by rote. Don't walk to certain parts of the stage to "hit your mark." Understand your character, your world, and your story and fuse them all together to connect with your scene partners and be present together to create a piece of art.

If you aren't, the audience can tell. They can always tell. And when they know, you'll know. And it isn't pretty. The glow of smartphone screens illuminate their faces from their cupped hands. Their elbows leave their knees and they lean back in their chairs to count the lamps hanging from the overhead. You hear the rustle of programs and purses as they fumble for something to keep their attention.

And all is lost. The magic is gone. The story is decapitated. And the art is deflated.

This also applies to any vocation which involves customer interaction. Before we go on, let's broaden the perspective on "customer." Typically, when we hear "customer" we think "paying customer" at a retail location, food service, clothing, sporting event...anywhere someone would be looking for something at a place of business at which they'll be exchanging a product for currency. Support departments also have customers. Human Resources, IT, Accounting, management, their customers are the employees, but sometimes this gets lost because there's no direct exchange of money for the services received.

Starting with the traditional sense of the word "customer," let's take the situation of being on the sales floor and interacting with a customer. (For a specific, real life example, check out Far Away from Day 10 this month.) If I'm present while working with my customer, I can pay attention to her, engage her in conversation, take in information from verbal and non-verbal cues, and provide her with an excellent shopping experience. If I'm not, I can miss what she's telling me, make ill-informed suggestions, and ultimately, frustrate her instead of helping her.

What entails not being present? Thinking about off-the-clock topics while you should be engaged with customers. Wondering if you forgot to lock your car, an argument you had with your partner the night before, a math test you think you just bombed before coming to work, anything that is not work-related that distracts you and prevents you from fully investing yourself to your work.

In college, when we showed up to rehearsals and performances, we would sign into a Call Sheet to let our stage manager know we have officially arrived. At a couple different jobs I've had, present employment included, we punch in on an electronic time clock. In a basketball game, you check into the scorer's table and wait for the next in bound to step onto the floor. All of these examples are exact moments in which you remind yourself you are stepping onto the playing field and clocking in. Literally. This is the moment you are given to mentally step through the threshold and lock in.

You're on the sales floor, you're engaging with customers, you're helping people out, and maybe you run into a challenging situation: an angry customer, an off-putting interaction, we've all had them. If a deep breath and a quick count to three doesn't do the trick, maybe you need to step off the floor for a moment and head to the break room out of sight of the customers to regain your composure. In a position of customer service, you're putting on a show for the customers whether they are buying anything that day or not. Lock it in. You're getting paid for it. It's your job.

Think about everything else on your break, on your lunch, or after work. If you can't leave it at the door when you come in, maybe you shouldn't be there, or maybe you need to try to control your mood a bit more so you can be present when it's crunch time.

For an extreme example, say an EMT arrives at a crash scene and three compressions into a CPR cycle,  she remembers her father starts chemo that day.


To apply it to retail, maybe you're helping someone in the fitting room and you come back with an incorrect size, and what you guessed, since you blanked when you got to the dressed on the floor and just grabbed one, was way off and she just ended up leaving because you struck a chord of body image insecurity.

In the theatre? You flashback to the fight you had last night and start spouting off what you should have said when you should be telling young Juliet how a family vendetta means nothing to you.

So yes. I am here. Try it out. Maybe saying it in your head when you clock in, step onto the sales floor, or wipe your feet on the non-skid pad before stepping onto the court at the start of the 4th quarter. A little focus goes a long way.

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