Serving the Service Industry

I guess Carrie Underwood’s “Sound of Music” aired the other night. I didn’t watch it, not because I thought it would be horrendous (which, if Facebook is an accurate barometer, it was), but because we decided to visit the seventh ring of Hell, AKA the mall, for some Christmas shopping.

I usually don’t go to the mall anyway because, well, I’d rather be poking my eyes with a pointy stick or watching Carrie Underwood in a habit. Unfortunately for us, we had to return some things that Everett the giant baby never got to wear and we needed stuf that the internet couldn’t provide quick enough (Shock! Horror!). So, to the mall we went.

Poor Maggie was just way over-stimulated by the obligatory Christmas displays of crappy calendars and summer sausage everywhere. Nothing smells more like the holidays than perfume samples and cheap summer sausage intermingled with the scent of stale Chinese food and raw humanity. Does Scentsy offer that in a cube of wax? I’m pretty sure it’d be a big seller.

I was able to stave off a meltdown or seven by walking the girls through a jewelry store to check out the carpet. This is not your average mall carpet. Oh, no. This particular establishment has gone above and beyond to provide its customers with the most fabulous carpet imaginable. It’s blindingly sparkly, as though millions of diamonds were ground to dust and individually woven into the carpet strands. Basically, it’s spectacular and looks like it belongs in the Barbie Dream House and we walked through twice, much to the chagrin of the other shoppers.

To say that we don’t fit the jewelry store clientele is an understatement, as I’d assume most of their customers at least attempt to look like they’ve showered and few wear diapers while they shop…but maybe I’m just generalizing here. That store is probably erecting a sign right now that reads, “Carpet for Paying Customers Only!”

I’m not sorry in the slightest for going in there, though, because I’ve secretly always wanted to walk on that glorious carpet, so I can mark that off my bucket list. Done and done.

The upside is, with our returns and a sale at Macy’s, we managed to get Lily a coat for a whopping eight cents, which is probably what it cost to make it in the first place, so there you go.

The real upside is that the elevator in Macy’s broke so Maggie, Everett, and I got to ride the freight elevator, which is like a dirty alley, only the dumpsters contain overpriced Jessica Simpson clothes and the whole thing moves up and down.

If you’ve never been given the opportunity to visit the seedy underbelly of Macy’s that lies behind those “employee only” doors, I highly suggest it. It’s just as dismal as you expect and may give you some appreciation for the poor folks lucky enough to work retail this time of year.

Which brings me to the gloriously wonderful hybrid of ideas my mom and dear friend, Katy came up with. Katy’s got two girls who are pretty much exactly Maggie and Lily’s ages and they’re a family after my own heart. Katy is pretty much the best mommy friend I could ask for because she’s got great ideas and she’s brilliant and she doesn’t judge me for never wearing makeup and for sometimes calling my kids by the dog’s name.

Here’s our train of thought:

– We want a good way to start teaching our kids about service to others and giving.

-Mom saw this thing where kids gave out flowers to people outside a store and it was wonderful.

– But our girls are way little and we don’t want to confuse them about how to behave around strangers. Stranger danger is real, y’all.

– Enter retail employees, who are easily some of the most poorly treated people during the holiday season. They get miserable hours, they’re separated from their families and are forced to police the rabid hordes out for blood and “bargains.” These employees are on their feet all day long, thanklessly ringing up sale after sale for people who seem to think they can haggle for goods as though the Toys-R-Us is an open air market in Shanghai or something. Retail workers are yelled at, belittled, and completely under appreciated if you ask me, so…

– Katy had the brilliant idea to take flowers to people working retail this holiday season! Brilliant, I say, brilliant!!

This is perfect because it’s a service opportunity that is definitely overlooked. People do a ton of great outreach during the holidays, most of which is focused on the poor, elderly, homeless, etc. I love those kinds of projects, but a lot of them aren’t really feasible for us- two women with five kids between them, all under the age of three. We need something that can be specific, hold the kids’ attention and keep them engaged. There’s no end to the havoc we’d wreak on a nursing home or other traditional outreach group. I’m so excited about giving a different group some love, too.

We’ll be picking a weekend soon to go buy some pretty flowers and descend upon a few stores with some holiday cheer and lots of thanks. My challenge to you is to do the same!

Find a group of people in your community who works their tails off during the holidays and show them some love! Take some donuts to the grocery store and have a manager put them in the break room. Bring coffee or hot chocolate to a construction site. Stop by the Starbucks with some flowers for the folks who make one zillion peppermint mochas a day. Find a way to thank those in the service industry whether it’s your server at lunch or the pharmacist at Walgreens.

And when you do, report back here! I want to hear your creative ideas for loving on your community! I promise it’ll make your next trip to the mall way more enjoyable, even if they’ve got sparkly carpet. And service is always, always better than an evening of bad TV, right? Right!

4 thoughts on “Serving the Service Industry

  1. Bekah

    Great Idea. There’s a few ladies at the grocery store I basically see over and over… Might have to do something like this for them!

  2. Diana McGarr

    Well, I am mad. I thought this blog was worthy of 5 stars, but I guess I have NO fine motor skills and the iPad registered it as 4 stars. Sorry Mary Susan. It was not an editorial comment. I look forward to hearing about your experiences, and I wished I had been there to walk “the carpet” with you and to be able to say, “Done and done!” Please post pics of Lily in her 8 cent coat!

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