By Lolly Wigall
Is it okay that I goof sometimes?
I don’t view myself as a perfectionist, but I do like to look good to the outside world. I like to present well. I like to act as if I am coping effectively with life’s situations. I like to view myself as a professional audiologist who owns a business and can also juggle many things at one time. Any professional will tell you that things fall through the cracks sometimes. That’s just life.
There are the meetings that are accidentally forgotten. Phone calls not made. There’s the endless pile of paperwork that should have been filled out a day or so ago. There are bills that are left unpaid.
No one can handle everything all the time…right?
As a long-time business owner, I have many years of experience of running a practice. I have developed a philosophy of treating patients. I have developed a professional persona. I am upbeat, positive and always happy to see people who drop in unannounced. I generally like people. I enjoy hearing their stories and their adventures. I like hearing about their frustrations and joys concerning hearing their loved ones. When they tell me about their frustrations, then I adjust their hearing aids accordingly. It is satisfying to me.
I tell my patients: if you don’t complain, I can’t fix it.
Developing a professional persona has saved me many times. When I was a teenager I worked at Fiddler’s Variety Store, a small mom-and-pop business that was a mainstay in the community. We sold toys, households items, clothes, jewelry, knitting, crochet, embroidery, material, patterns, stationery, cards, bill-pay office and most anything you can think of.
It was a great job for a teenager. I learned how to make change, clean and organize every department. I worked in each department as I relieved all the regular staff members during their 15-minute breaks and lunch hours. I learned how to ask customers what they wanted. I learned our entire inventory so I could tell customers if an item they wanted was in stock or if we would have to order it for them.
I also worked at a local elementary school as a noontime aide. This meant that I was basically a recess monitor. My mother worked at the school so every child knew I was Mrs. Bunton’s daughter. They all knew my name, but it was impossible for me to learn each of their names.
One Saturday after Christmas a mother came into the store and specifically asked for me. She said I had sold her children a pair of cufflinks that didn’t match. Remembering every sale you make during a busy Christmas season is next to impossible. But, the mother claimed I knew her children from the school and that I had sold them the cufflinks. She wanted her money back. I told her I didn’t remember selling her children the cufflinks. She exploded and loudly called me a “liar.” I burst into tears. I had never been called a liar before, and I was mortified.
Fortunately, my boss came to my rescue. She instructed me to go up to the break room. She swiftly took the cufflinks from the woman, opened the cash register, and returned her money. Meanwhile, I ran away upstairs trying not to continue crying.
My boss, Dot Fiddler, came upstairs. She sat down next to me. She looked me in the eyes, and said:
“You were right. You did not sell her those cufflinks. They are a brand that we do not carry. When something like this happens you need to ‘put on your duck feathers.’ Ducks’ feathers let water roll right off their backs and they don’t get wet. Remember to do this mentally when things are bad.”
That was some of the best advice I ever received. To mentally put on feathers as a protective layer has come in handy many, many times. Just to imagine myself clothed in feathers is a pretty funny image. But, to take it further, knowing that I will not get wet in the middle of this mess is freeing.
Time to Put on Your Feathers?
I live north of Boston. We have been hit hard this winter with many feet of snow, without the benefit of in-between melting. The temperatures have been abnormally cold. We have had two blizzards in the last few weeks. The snow is at least four feet high in the yard. It is higher where we have thrown the snow to clear the driveway and the walkway to the house. The snow is so high that the bird feeders are hanging into the snow from their six-foot-high shepherd hooks. I am trying to keep my duck feathers on. I am trying not to get wet in all of this snow. I am trying to stay upbeat and positive.
I am trying to keep my professional persona alive and warm.
*title image courtesy wikimedia