Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Store Stories #829

It caught me off guard when the door chime rung. Its beeping is usually unnecessary, since sales reps in our stores generally see our customers coming from their vehicles in the parking lot. But I never saw a car pull in. A short, older gentleman with thinning salt-and-pepper hair walked inside. He was probably in his 70s. I’m trained to give a warm greeting when someone comes in, but he beat me to it.

“Hello,” he said with a huge smile and strong Italian accent. “How is this day treating you?”

I instantly liked him. There are some people that carry themselves in such a way that they exude positivity. I could tell this is how he greeted everyone. I returned the greeting.

“I’m having a problem with my smartphone,” he started.

That string of words is all too familiar to wireless reps, and none of us like it. It means:
A. I’m not selling anything.
B. I’m about to spend a lot of time not selling anything.

But it’s part of the job, and I thought I’d enjoy his company, so I listened intently and eventually resolved his issue. He graciously thanked me. He followed that by asking, “So, how’s business?”

“Eh, it’s Summer,” I responded. In Florida, everyone knows that means it’s slow.

He nodded politely, and then seemed to search for another topic. “Well, at least you can catch up on other things in your life.” He smiled.

Immediately I recognized that he didn’t want to leave. In Florida we get a lot of elderly customers that seem lonely and starved for conversation. Sadly, sometimes we have to find ways to ease them out for the sake of business, but this time the store was empty and heck, he was so damn pleasant. I engaged him.

“Yeah, I’ve kept myself pretty busy. Been hitting the gym a lot, riding my bike, and…”

I hesitated for a second. I tell maybe one out of every twenty customers about my double life.

“…and, believe it or not, I have a night job. I’m a standup comedian.”

His eyes lit up. “Really? How exciting! How did you get into that?”

Usually, it’s a story I’m pretty sick of telling, but I jumped into it with him. His enthusiasm was infectious. Soon he knew about the blogging, my old phobia of public speaking, the first time I got on stage, pretty much everything. I also admitted that while I’m excited about what’s going on in my comedy career, I’m getting pretty old to be chasing dreams.

“Preposterous,” he replied. “It’s never too late. I can tell you have a passion for your art. Don’t ever give up on your dream. I think you’ll make it. No, I’m positive you’ll make it. If you have the talent, the passion, and you never give up, you can’t fail.”

He then shook my hand and gestured like he was going to leave. Then he stopped, smiled again, and seemingly to emphasize his point, he repeated himself. “I’m serious. Do not give up on your dream. I fully expect to see you on television someday.” And with that, he got up and left.

I never did see how he got to the store.