Yesterday was another ‘quiet’ day at the yoga office, aka Stonemonkey Studio – only the one person came this week – numbers are going down not up – eek! Still, again Digby kindly allowed me to use the café space, even though it was closed, to write in between classes, so I spent a productive day writing an article about how to get into the environmental sector for a careers guidance magazine. Quite how I came to be writing this is rather a long story, but one that shows the lasting benefits of that fearful word, ‘networking’.
I love meeting new people and am very sociable (translation: nosy as hell), but for some reason I am absolutely terrible at small-talk as soon as there is any kind of ‘professional’ aspect to the social scenario I find myself in. So at conferences and training events, I am likely to be the wallflower intently munching on a limp spring roll at the side of the room, feigning interest in the promotional leaflets at the bottom of my delegate bag.
But, take me out of that kind of forced professional networking situation and I am friendly as you like, and this has created my own personal network of heroes who have given me helping hands throughout my life. In this particular example, I have remained on good terms with the guy (Phil) who runs the environmental training scheme that enabled me to switch careers from publishing to ecology (the fantastic LEMUR project). He himself was in touch with a careers adviser specialist recently, who needed to interview environmental professionals for an online database of potential careers for students, so Phil put her in touch with me. So I then spent a happy half an hour gassing away to this lady (Angela) about all things ecology and she ended up inviting me to write an article for her magazine. And there you have it – a linear trail of friendliness leading to good stuff – my kind of networking!
Anyway, I have massively digressed, because what I actually wanted to post about today were the local characters of Leamington Spa who really put a smile on my face yesterday lunchtime. Saturated with ecology factoids, I headed out into the bracing sunshine for my lunch. First stop was Holland and Barrett, my not-so-guilty pleasure (seriously, I could spend hours in there perusing all the healthy goodness, as though I might absorb some of it by a weird form of osmosis). I was extremely pleased to be served by the crazy, friendly man whose customer service I have come to eagerly anticipate. You can’t (and shouldn’t) miss him: tall with glasses, emitting a constant stream of flowery positive language like a knight from bygone days of medieval chivalry, although with a green sweater rather than armour… The conversation at the till went something like this:
Him: ‘Ha ha!’ (said with an ebullience that made me feel I was the person he most wanted to see next in the world – he does this to everyone)
Me: ‘Hi’ (grinning already)
Him: ‘Do you have one of our green cards of wonder?’ (i.e. H&B loyalty store card)
Me: ‘Yep’ (hands it over, giggling)
Him: ‘Aaaah, that brings joy to my heart and music to my soul.’
Awkward interlude where we both wait for the card transaction to go through – for some reason this always takes aaaages in H&B, no matter which store you’re in, to the point where you start to feel the ‘guilt’ of possible imminent card refusal…
Him: ‘Please take your card of abundance back, fine lady.’
Him: ‘That is not a problem. You have an extraordinary day.’
His customary parting shot sums him up really – he has the magical ability, not to mention an unending reserve of positivity and enthusiasm, to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. It is impossible to leave such an exchange, which could so easily be unmemorable, without feeling the same joy in your heart and music in your soul of which he himself proclaims to feel on receipt of your loyalty card. Brilliant.
My second local character was seen/heard when I was back at the café, munching smugly on my ‘raw’ chocolate bar. Through the window I heard the loud repeated refrain of ‘I just can’t wait to be king’ from the Lion King, sung in a shouty, fairly tuneless yet very definite voice. I looked up from my H&B healthy goodness and saw a young lad striding down the pavement with headphones on, big smile plastered on his face, lost in his own world where, I imagine, he will one day rule the savannah.
I chuckled to myself, feeling the responsive warmth that comes from witnessing overflowing happiness in other people… 🙂