Independents

Squirrel Spotting: Life in Lockdown

IndependentsMay 12, 2020

Squirrel Spotting: Life in Lockdown

In his latest column, Peter Smith muses about “Taxi Driver,” a condescending conversation, and what jewelers can learn from his dentist.

Peter Smith is president of Memoire and Hearts On Fire. He is author of two books, “Hiring Squirrels,” and “Sell Something.” Connect with Smith on LinkedIn or at dublinsmith@yahoo.com.
My wife Sherry and I watched the movie “Taxi Driver” last Friday night.

If you’ve seen the classic Robert De Niro film from 1976, you’ll remember it had some pretty heavy content.

As we discussed the film over breakfast Saturday morning, we wondered aloud whether Jodie Foster, who was 12 or 13 at the time she was cast as a prostitute (a role that earned her an Academy Award nomination), was even allowed to watch the film after it was completed.

I turned to Sherry and said, “Do your little Google-ramble.”

She responded, “It’s too early for me to want to hit you!”

Welcome to week nine of COVID-19 lockdown.

For context, I often kid Sherry about her insatiable curiosity.

She and Google are on such good terms that anytime I even hint at a question, she whips out her iPad and looks up the answer. I love it!

Occasionally, I’ll try a little reverse-psychology such as …

“I wonder if so-and-so ever worked with such-and-such.” I do it in such a way as to convey mild, but not motivated, interest.

You can see what’s happening here.

If I said, “Hey Sherry, would you look up …” she’d respond with a something like, “I’ll do that right after I iron your socks.”

Since we are on the subject of condescension, I asked her what the most condescending thing was that’s ever been said to her.

She replied without hesitation that a “friend” once asked her in the course of conversation, “And you make how much running your piddly little jewelry store?”

For the record, she was running a very profitable jewelry store and employing 12 people at the time of the inquiry, many of them the principal breadwinners in their families. He, on the other hand, had a government job, employing nobody.

In an unrelated matter, I saw a post recently from my friend and former colleague, Pat Henneberry.

Pat is one of the funniest people I know, and she posted on Facebook about getting a “we’re all in this together” email from an airline.

Her post suggested that the last time she flew on that airline, her bag weighed 52 pounds and they were apparently not all in this together. 

I thought about Pat a couple of days later when someone posted a photo from the same airline showing a flight out of Denver where about one-third of the passengers, and some of the airline’s employees, weren’t wearing face masks. 
The plane was also packed, including people jammed into the middle seats. It wasn’t the kind of environment anyone is likely to welcome post-pandemic.

In better news from the same day, I got an email update from my dentist that could serve as a prototype for how things ought to be done. 

It read:

“We cannot wait to welcome back our team and patients into a NEW and improved space. Yes, our construction team has been working steadily and safely on creating a space I have always dreamed of having for our patient care. New equipment, new state-of-the-art technology, new features solely focused around our patients, and simply a beautiful space will be waiting to greet you all in the near future. We also used the equipment specifically designed to keep our team members and patients SAFE. Air-filtering systems and extra-oral dental suction systems will be features you don’t see at a typical dental office but will be valuable additions to our office as we stay on the leading edge of safety for everyone in our space. Providing the safest and best possible care is always on our mind and our mission.”
 Wow. That is an impact email amid the litany of nonsense we get from businesses telling us how we are “all in this together.” (Many of them, I might add, we’ve barely heard of.) 

For what it’s worth, my dentist is a small business owner and, as the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, she’s making the American Dream work for her. I couldn’t be any more proud of her.

That’s a “piddly little” business doing the right stuff in the midst of this crisis.

I’m almost looking forward to going back there.
Peter Smithis president of Memoire and Hearts On Fire, and author of three books, “Hiring Squirrels,” “Sell Something,” and “The Sales Minute.”

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