As I read of the new craziness surrounding Black Friday and the war between retail and family, I thought, “been there, done that.” I saw the deaths, the stabbings, the videos and the loss of sensibility.
As I drove my son to work this morning, I shared with my son some of my retail experiences as he headed off to another crazy day of working in a local box store. He sells technology and gadgetry. I get it. (I have owned more stores than I care to think of and endured too many holiday sales.)Here are a few times that I remember being caught up in the craziness and am not proud of (Pre-salvation).
- I once worked in a camera and gadget store. I ran the tech center. High end cameras, the then “new” video cameras, answering machines and phones. People would come to the back of the store where my office was. I used to laugh that I would sell them thousands of dollars when they simply came in for a camera lens filter. My boss used to say to me, “what are you going to do when they bring it all back?” I would confidently reply, “they are too embarrassed to.” And they never did.
- In a store I owned (A store of witchcraft and mystery and technology and magic) I remember one fateful holiday weekend, it rained. Skiing was washed out and people were at the mall because they had booked the ski rental for a week. As the rain came down and the parking lots were full, suddenly a utility transformer went out. The emergency lights went off in the halls and for “some reason” only my store had lights on inside. The word spread quickly and shoppers headed to our store. We were mobbed for 4 hours straight. Money came in by the thousands. People spent like their lives depended on it.
- Another time it was an amazing holiday season day. My stores (I had 5 at the time.) were experiencing super busy crazy days. This one day as I traveled to each store and picked up the receipts of the day, I had paper bags full of money. Large grocery store bags packed full. As I carried them up into my home, my wife (Not Tina but a previous wife.) looked at me. I was giddy with delight. (I was in love with money.) I sat there and counted the money for hours.
- I once was an outside sales person and consultant for a jewelry company. After months of discussion, I set a program in place that was going to make us all rich. The problem was the program sold faster than they ultimately could produce. The program I devised went national in a few months and what was planned to take 3-5 years was a two month sensation. (Before the internet.) Too much-too fast. They went out of business. All for greed.
I look back with disdain. My heart was so in love with money. My family suffered. I suffered. I was so let down from the excitement of the day to come back into the home where it was so “quiet” I never knew what to do. I was at a loss. I used to tell people “I wish families ran like businesses, because it would be so much easier.”
Prior to salvation I was always like that. I lived to see how much I could do. My greed and craziness cost me lots. I always bought what “I” wanted; did what I wanted. When I was buying, I was spending. When I was selling, I would never want to stop. (I got upset at one of the malls one time because they refused to open on Thanksgiving and Christmas.)
When I look at the people doing stupid things on days like Black Friday, my heart goes out to them. I did not taze people (In the desire to offer up full disclosure-we did not have them!) or shoot people, but I definitely hurt people. And when I was retailing I was taking advantage of people’s hurts a lot of the time. (I could sell ice cream to an Eskimo.)
By the way, I do think it is okay to sell and sell hard. After salvation, I was working for a company. My clients were large companies, like ice cream companies and museums, box stores and industry. In one month I became the number 1 sales person in the company. I got an idea. I shared that idea. That idea made us all successful.
I do believe in the fact that our participation in these days does exacerbate the problem, but that is my personal opinion. I think we ought to regroup and consider what the stress is we are creating.
From a retail perspective, people like my son engage people all day long and come home to a family that is not moving at all. I know how hard it is. But the more emphasis people put on things and answers the less important the family unit becomes. You are expected to sell. You may increase your pay by the more you sell. (Even if you are not on “commission” the more you sell the better things are for everyone in the business.)
So how do you put on the brakes? I think it is based on a pre-determined thought process of making the slow down. I get it. The same can happen in a supercharged atmosphere in a church service and my wife knows I am not going to come home and “go to sleep.” But she also knows I will not disregard my family.
When you realize your family is the most important thing God has put in your life, you kind of let all else pale in comparison.
And things? Single parents tend to do this more than two parent families. Buying “stuff” for your kids to make up for the lack is ridiculous. All your kids really want is you. Your time. Your love.
Many years ago a friend and I were called in on a house clean up. (We had a salvage company that sold through eBay.) This house had been foreclosed on by the bank. We got there and the place was a disaster. Just the DVD’s we found on the floor at half face value were worth over $1,200. The game cartridges another $500 or more. Forget all the other stuff. The place looked like a dump and yet we garnered over $4,000 in sales from the electronics alone! That was 8 month’s worth of mortgage payments!
You can not make up for the missing parent, so don’t. You can not make up for the absence of a spouse. Don’t cover up. Be you. You is way better than the “best of anything.” Things will end up in boxes. Love never will.
And mostly for my believing friends, this is an opportunity to reach out and be part of someone’s life. Change almost never comes until someone cares enough to see it through.
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