UK Vacay Part 3: Road rage

One of the things that my husband was most nervous about when travelling to the United Kingdom this summer was having to drive on the other side of the road.

Picture this if you will: It’s noon on a balmy day just outside of Wembley Stadium in North London. The locals are taking advantage of the gorgeous weather, avid sports fans from around the city are heading to the park for their afternoon game of footy, and here we are in our beautiful Vauxhall Vivaro still trying to wrap our heads around driving on the other side of the road. We reach a set of traffic lights at a major intersection and as the lights turn green for us, my husband suddenly can’t get the van into gear. He and my father who was sitting in the passenger seat try everything but there is a serious problem with the transmission. As we sit stranded in the middle of a three lane road, the traffic begins to back up behind us.  I call the rental company to try and get help, but have trouble finding the correct number to call and am starting to get flustered.  When I finally reached her and was trying to give our location, I guess my accent precluded her from understanding.  She asked if I was near “Wimbley” or “Wembley.”  As an American, I think “What’s the difference??” but apparently there is one and this took some time for us to figure out together.  We had just passed a major wreck, so the drivers on the road already must have been agitated at the delays before they even reached us.  But to our amazement, no one honked.  Not one person.  They simply moved into the next lane and went on their way.  After a few minutes, a police car who had been working the wreck behind us made his way to our car in a vehicle that had been created for a middle school science fair and asks “well, well, well, what ‘ave we ‘ere?”

strange_and_funny_police_vehicles_07

This didn’t actually happen but I couldn’t resist :).  He quickly became our Knight in Shining Armour.  He very kindly worked with his partner to find tow equipment and proceeded to use their police car to tow our van to a side road where we would no longer be in danger.  And that was just the beginning of our day!  We waited by the car for two hours before help arrived, and we moved the car yet again.  Then we waited for an actual tow truck.  By the time he arrived, our day was gone, but somehow we were still in really good spirits due to the kindness of the other drivers, police officers and the wonderful employees of the Automobile Association.

Over the course of our 10-day journey there were numerous opportunities for fellow drivers to visually or verbally abuse my husband. There was the time that he put the car into reverse instead of first (twice in a row), the time he went into a pedestrianized area in the middle of Leicester city center, and the time he found himself in the bus lane. However, not once did anyone express their frustration.  Or maybe they did, and we just couldn’t hear it over my laughter.  Who knows?  The point is, there were so many occasions where we were expecting to be honked, yelled or cursed at, and it just didn’t happen.  Except for the one time where someone actually stopped their car in front of us and tried to get my husband to get out and fight.  That happened.  But that was less due to road rage and more due to a teenager who just got his license and was on a major power-trip.

Now fast forward to the very end of our trip.  We arrive at the Dublin airport at 5:30 in the morning (with a toddler and infant, I might add).  My husband makes all the right decisions (yes, I said it) and directs us to the shortest lines so we are just barely able to catch our flight to London.  We thought the worst was over, but with a short, one hour layover at Heathrow and the need to go through security a second time, we soon realized there was a good chance we would miss our flight back to the states.  My mom’s bag required additional searching, so the rest of us went and checked in to the flight while we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  We tried to rush security along, but with only one person working, and a quite unhelpful one at that, it was to no avail.  We finally decided that my dad and I would run to the plane with the boys while my husband waited with my mom at security.  And I do mean run.  A sign told us it was a 20-minute walk to our gate and our flight left exactly 20 minutes from when we reached that point.  When we reached the gate, the staff did not rush us or act irritated.  They actually acted as though nothing was wrong, gave us a bottle of water and toy bags for the boys and assured us that the plane would not leave without the other two people in our party.  Thank you Virgin Atlantic! (If you’re wondering, my mom had forgotten a tiny bottle of vodka when bagging up her liquids, and security refused to throw it away without first testing it)!  And again we thought the worst was over.

We arrived in Chicago after a grueling flight with two young children and to our dismay, we realized that our car seats were still in London.  And we had an 8-hour drive ahead of us.  We were informed that we could purchase two new ones and apply for a reimbursement, so we headed to the nearest Target and quickly purchased new seats.  Finally, on our way home!  Not.  I have installed my fair few car seats, but somehow the ones we chose required a Harvard education and employment by NASA.  It was hot.  We were in a hurry.  We had been awake for 16 hours with 8 more to go.  And despite our efforts to make it fun and pretend to be on The Amazing Race, we just could not do it.  Enter another amazing idea by my husband – head to the nearest fire station and have someone do it for us!  My mom happened to spot a police car and flagged them down to get directions and this is when our luck changed.  The police officer was a licensed car seat installer!  He pulled his car over and taught me how to install our new seats, while giving me peace of mind that they were done correctly.  He even chose to ignore the half-drunk bottle of wine on the floorboard.  I guess he figured we needed it.  Once again, we were saved by a Knight in Officer’s clothing.

The kindness shown to us by the London officers, the English drivers, the Virgin Atlantic employees (who sent me a very nice email with our reimbursement approval), and the Chicago PD restored any lack of faith we had in humanity.  And maybe, just maybe, it can be attributed to a new attitude of kindness adopted by myself and my family.

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UK Vacay Part 2: Change of Attitude

Last week I wrote a little about a recent vacation to the England to visit family.  I mentioned the way Americans are perceived by others and the dangers that stereotyping can bring about.  While stereotypes are typically only true about a few people, rather than an entire group, they are developed for a reason. It is true that not all Americans are loud and rude, just as it is true that not all English people have bad teeth or get in bar fights about football results.  However, I have personally witnessed negative stereotypes about Americans brought to life and felt that while I did my best last week to defend my countrymen, we don’t always deserve it.

A couple of years ago, I traveled to England with a soccer tour group, as my husband was coaching a team.  This was not my favorite English adventure for a number of reasons.  One, I was pregnant and had to live in a small, non air-conditioned dorm room, as well as share a twin bed with my husband.  Nuf said. Also, I was surrounded by 13-year-old girls, who happen to be my least favorite group of humans.  That is, they were my least favorite – until I met their parents.  What an eye-opening experience!  To do a little stereotyping of my own, I will mention that the majority of the families on this trip had quite a bit of money – they had to in order to afford the trip.  One girl actually said these words “Ugh, it’s been 8 days since I had a Greek frappe!”

Throughout the trip, my husband and I gradually got more and more agitated at the entitled and rude behavior displayed by the American parents we were with.  On a bus ride home from a game, through London at rush hour, the parents complained incessantly about the incompetence of our driver.  They couldn’t understand why he couldn’t take our giant tour bus down a narrow, cobblestoned street in order to get us back to the dorm more quickly!  When their daughters complained about the food that was provided for them with their trip fees, they had the bus driver make a stop at McDonald’s so their girls could eat something they enjoyed.  And to top it all off, we had the wonderful opportunity to sit in the Kop at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, for Steven Gerrard’s testimonial game and the families were nothing less than unbearable the entire time.  They moved around to different seats, prompting the stewards to approach and scold the group (while the parents continued to argue with him).  They complained about not being able to see (although we were sitting in the most famous and popular section of the stadium), and worst of all, they made fun of the local accent while sitting RIGHT NEXT TO LOCAL PEOPLE.  I was distraught.  I felt embarrassed and could not wait for the trip to end.  It truly opened my eyes to the difference in the cultures and inspired me to make a change in myself, to become more accepting and generally kind, as that attitude will most certainly make me a happier person.

Rather than approach a situation with a defensive nature, ready for a fight, I have found that it’s much easier to assume that the other person is going to be understanding and helpful.  It is true that you catch more flies with honey, but I think that people forget that and would prefer to complain and take the stance of the squeaky wheel, such as the parents on the bus.  Entitlement is not a quality that anyone admires.  So whether you are traveling, buying groceries or working at the counter of your retail store, remember that the person you are dealing with has feelings, and if you treat them with respect and kindness you will be much more likely to have a positive interaction.

How Leicester City beat the odds

Leicester City’s title triumph: the inside story of an extraordinary season
What convinced Leicester to appoint Claudio Ranieri? Why are injured players pitchside at training on exercise bikes? And what have been the keys to a remarkable Premier League success?

In July last year Claudio Ranieri was enjoying a break in Italy when he received a phone call from Steve Kutner, his agent, that would end up changing the face of English football in a way no one could have imagined. Kutner had been attempting to convince Jon Rudkin, Leicester City’s director of football, that Ranieri was worth considering as the Premier League club’s new manager and finally there was news of a breakthrough.

Ranieri was out of work at the time but keen to return to management, in particular in England, where he had fond memories from his time in charge of Chelsea and still owned a property in London going back to those days at Stamford Bridge more than a decade earlier. Several Championship clubs had been sounded out without success when Nigel Pearson’s sacking at Leicester presented Kutner and Ranieri with a window of opportunity.

Kutner sensed that Leicester were sceptical about Ranieri, yet he refused to be discouraged. He submitted Ranieri’s CV, listing the distinguished clubs the 64-year-old had managed, together with his record – a Copa del Rey and Super Cup winner with Valencia, Coppa Italia winner at Fiorentina, plus second-place finishes in the Premier League, Ligue 1 and twice in Serie A – and kept chipping away. “I just wanted to get Claudio in front of them, because I was sure that they would be impressed,” Kutner says.
Leicester eventually came round to the idea of an interview. Ranieri jumped on a plane to London and together with Kutner met up with Rudkin, Susan Whelan, the chief executive officer, Andrew Neville, the football operations director, and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, the vice-chairman.

Ranieri was Ranieri: charming, extremely passionate and knowledgable. There was a feeling that he clicked with Srivaddhanaprabha, who knows his football inside out – Francesco Totti and Gabriel Batistuta were brought up in conversation as Ranieri ran through some of the strikers he has worked with – and the Italian’s enthusiasm for management impressed other board members.

Confirmation the talks had gone well arrived a few days later, when Ranieri and Kutner were invited back for further discussions, this time with Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Aiyawatt’s father and Leicester’s owner, also in attendance. The more time the Leicester board spent with Ranieri, the more they came to realise that his appointment made sense.

That is not to say that anyone involved in making that decision thought for one moment that Ranieri would be walking around the King Power Stadium pitch following the final home match of the season with a Premier League winners’ medal draped around his neck. It is a story that is as beautiful as it is absurd.
The Leicester Supremacy – a triumph that was never supposed to happen

Leicester, after all, were 5,000-1 rank outsiders and when it emerged that Ranieri decided to decorate his office at the King Power Stadium at the start of the season with an individual photograph of every other Premier League manager (he wanted to make them feel welcome after a match), it was tempting to wonder how long it would be before someone else was occupying his chair and asking for those black and white images to be packed away into a box never to be seen again.

Ranieri’s appointment was viewed in that light and there is no point in pretending otherwise. On the afternoon the Italian was unveiled at the King Power Stadium – seven days after Gary Lineker had echoed the thoughts of many with a tweet that read: ‘Claudio Ranieri? Really?’ – Whelan and Rudkin sat alongside the new Leicester manager in what felt like a show of support as much as anything. It was a measure of the mood at the time that Whelan asked the supporters to trust the board’s judgement when it came to their decision to sack Pearson and replace him with Ranieri.

Nine months later, and on the eve of claiming the Premier League title, some wonderful footage emerged of Ranieri in the stand at the King Power Stadium watching clips of Leicester supporters from across the city, starting with Vicky on a fruit and veg stall in the market and including a railway employee speaking on behalf of “virtually everyone at the station”, expressing their heartfelt gratitude for everything he has done for their football club. “God” and “Legend” were among the words used to describe Ranieri and, in the context of what has unfolded during this incredible season, who are we to argue?
Leicester’s success under Ranieri will go down as one of the greatest achievements in sport, never mind the insular world of English football, and as the mind wanders forward to Saturday evening’s home game against Everton and the moment when Wes Morgan steps forward to pick up that 25kg Premier League trophy, the obvious question to ask is how on earth have they done it?

The truth is that even those on the inside at Leicester shake their heads in disbelief, half-expecting to rub their eyes one morning and realise it was all a dream. Nobody at Leicester would dare to claim that they saw this coming, yet that is not to say that they struggle to come up with reasons why everything has spectacularly fallen into place, chief among them being the exhilarating mix of team spirit and talent within a group of players who possess a rare commodity in a game awash with money: hunger.

An obvious place for the fairytale to start is at the end of last season, before Ranieri took over and when Pearson and his players pulled off the “great escape”, winning seven of their last nine matches to haul themselves off the bottom of the table and up to 14th place. Described as a “miracle” by Ranieri on the day he was presented to the media, that turnaround hinted at the potential (comfortable mid-table) in a team that Pearson had strengthened by the time he was sacked on 30 June.
Robert Huth’s loan deal from Stoke City had been turned into a permanent move, and Christian Fuchs and Shinji Okazaki had joined from Schalke and Mainz respectively. Steve Walsh, the club’s joint assistant manager and head of recruitment, was busy chasing another target that was far from straightforward but would turn into one of the best Premier League signings of the summer.

N’Golo Kanté was the player’s name, and Ranieri – as he would later admit – did not know much about him. Ranieri was far from alone in that respect – plenty of other Premier League managers have since questioned how he slipped under their radar – but Walsh and his recruitment team had done their homework. David Mills, Leicester’s senior scouting coordinator, had been to see Kanté play for Caen, and clips and statistics were put together to highlight the midfielder’s talent.

Ranieri, however, still needed convincing about the player’s physique. A few months down the line, on the back of some superb performances from the Frenchman, Ranieri recalled how Walsh would constantly badger him during pre-season, saying: “Kanté, Kanté, Kanté!” In the end Ranieri was won over, Leicester handed over £5.6m and the rest is history. High quality on the pitch and low maintenance off it, Kanté drives a Mini and lives a simple life that involves tackling and smiling; occasionally both at the same time. He has been a revelation and everybody at Leicester loves him.
In Walsh, Ranieri saw a friendly face when he arrived in Austria. The two worked together at Stamford Bridge, where Walsh was a scout for 16 years, and Ranieri knew how highly the former school teacher, who has been a central pillar of Leicester’s success with his remarkable track record of uncovering rough diamonds, was regarded by Rudkin and the club’s owners.

Ranieri, crucially, was happy to work with the club’s existing staff, including Craig Shakespeare, who also holds the title of assistant manager and has a close rapport with the players; he is out on the training field with them every day. Rather than seeking to make sweeping changes, which may have affected his chances of getting the job in the first place, Ranieri chose to complement what was in place by bringing in three staff of his own.

 

Paolo Benetti, who has worked with Ranieri since 2007, was named as the club’s third assistant manager and is seen as someone for the manager to bounce ideas off. Andrea Azzalin was appointed first-team science and conditioning coach, working under Matt Reeves, Leicester’s head of fitness and conditioning. A goalkeeping coach was also brought in but quickly departed. Mike Stowell, the first-team coach, fulfils that role and is well respected. Anyone who coaches Kasper Schmeichel with his father Peter watching – the former Manchester United goalkeeper often drops in at the training ground – needs to have a bit about them.

In some respects Leicester’s success under Pearson was a hindrance as well as a help to Ranieri initially. The team had momentum from the previous campaign, and the feeling among the players was that there was little need for anything to be altered. Pearson was an extremely popular manager inside the dressing room and whatever the rights and wrongs of the club’s decision to dismiss him, many of the Leicester players felt a sense of loyalty to him and liked his methods, including the fact that he gave them a voice and, in the case of the more senior members of the squad, courted their opinion.
In that sense Ranieri came to realise he would not be able to impose his way at Leicester and get everyone to blindly follow. It was a case of old habits die hard, especially when they delivered results. Players saw the five-a-sides on a Friday as a staple diet of their week and were not afraid to express their thoughts on the type of sessions being put on and how long they lasted. There was, in short, a resistance to change and, to an extent, Ranieri learned to go with the flow.

Tactically, however, Ranieri quickly made his mark. During pre-season he decided that playing with a three-man central defence – a system that worked extremely well for Pearson and the players at the end of last term – should be scrapped. Although it felt like a big call at the time, Ranieri got it spot on and the same has also been true with his team selection and substitutions – all of which flies in the face of the popular characterisation of him as a man who was forever saying twist instead of stick at Chelsea.
Early on Ranieri took a shine to Danny Drinkwater, who was unable to get into Leicester’s team at the end of last season but finishes this one hoping to go to Euro 2016 with England, and he has had no qualms about overlooking Gokhan Inler, the Switzerland captain who was signed as a replacement for Esteban Cambiasso. Inler, a player Ranieri was keen to sign and rated highly, was not even on the bench against Swansea last Sunday, when the manager dropped Marc Albrighton and was rewarded with an impressive performance from Jeffrey Schlupp. The feeling that Ranieri can do no wrong was confirmed when Albrighton came off the bench and scored Leicester’s fourth.

The “Tinkerman” has become the “Thinkerman” at Leicester, yet one thing that will never change with Ranieri is that warm, infectious personality. He has brought humour and light to Leicester, privately as well as publicly, occasionally mixing up his words with comical consequences and, in true Ranieri fashion, laughing at himself in the process. Self-deprecation comes easily to Ranieri, who called himself “a bell” on Friday before realising amid the laughter that he was straying close to inadvertently insulting himself.

That comment was made after another rendition of “dilly-ding dilly-dong” – the wake-up call for those not paying attention on the training pitch or in meetings – and a catchphrase that Ranieri’s staff and players have a permanent reminder of at home. At the end of one of the meetings at the training ground just before the visit to Liverpool on Boxing Day, Ranieri handed out a neatly boxed brass bell, engraved with his name, to everybody in the room. The only thing missing was a Father Christmas outfit.
Ranieri, however, is no fool. By that stage Leicester were enjoying the view from the top of the table and the manager was keeping a lid on expectations with his expert handling of the media. Press conferences started with a handshake for everybody in the room, invariably finished with laughter and in between there was constant talk of hitting 40 points. He even referenced the US president at one stage when asked about the title. “I’d like to say: ‘Yes we can!’ But I am not Obama,” Ranieri said, smiling.

Behind the scenes ambition was growing. In a colourful and eclectic dressing room where Jamie Vardy’s voice sets the volume and Huth’s dry sense of humour provides the comedy value, the team spirit and determination, as well as the individual talent, was shining through and, in many people’s eyes, inspiring Ranieri every bit as much as his players. He needed to look no further than the dejection among his players after the 1-1 draw with Manchester United in November to see the hunger and belief burning within.
Vardy’s opening goal in that fixture saw him make history as the first player to score in 11 successive Premier League matches and, for all the talk about the camaraderie within the squad, it is impossible to overlook the significant individual contribution made by the England striker, who has scored 22 goals and set up another six, and two of his team-mates, Kanté and Riyad Mahrez, all of whom were named on the PFA player of the year shortlist.

Mahrez arrived in 2014 from Le Havre for €450,000 and it seems laughable now that not so long ago Marseille’s chairman ridiculed the possibility of signing the 25-year-old. Walsh, on another one of his many scouting missions, had gone to watch Ryan Mendes, who is now at Nottingham Forest, but ended up being taken in by a slender winger with dexterous footwork. That night Mahrez produced the same trick that led to Leicester’s third goal against Stoke City a few months ago and left Philipp Wollscheid looking like a man who knew that he had been nutmegged but could not work out how.

Mahrez has been unplayable at times this season and if ever there was a performance that clinched the votes for the PFA player of the year award, it was during February’s 3-1 victory at Manchester City. It was Mahrez at his best, when it mattered most, and provided a seminal moment in Leicester’s season; the players and staff sensed for the first time that something truly special was happening.

Watching that game everything seemed a little surreal as Leicester, four days after beating Liverpool 2-0, took City apart at the Etihad. It was hard to suppress a smile when a message was sent out via Leicester’s official Twitter account with 20 minutes to go that read: “So if you’re just joining us… #lcfc are leading 3-0 and Robert Huth is on a hat-trick.”
Yet it was the response to a setback eight days later, on Valentine’s Day, that provided the greatest indication of what Leicester were capable of achieving this season. After playing against Arsenal with 10 men for more than half an hour, following Danny Simpson’s red card, Leicester conceded in the 95th minute and lost 2-1. It was the cruellest of defeats, their lead at the top was cut to two points and everyone, inside and outside the club, wondered how the players would respond to not just losing but the gut-wrenching manner of that defeat.
Ranieri, in what turned out to be a superb piece of management, took advantage of their early elimination from the FA Cup and gave the players a week off training to escape and forget about football. When they returned to the pitch the answer to whether being beaten against Arsenal would break their resolve was emphatic. Leicester won six and drew one out of the next seven matches to take 19 points out of 21. Arsenal, for the record, collected nine.

By now Leicester’s team had a familiar look. Schmeichel in goal; Simpson, Morgan, Huth and Fuchs at the back; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Kanté and Albrighton in midfield; and Okazaki playing just behind Vardy up front. Two compact banks of four, across defence and midfield, leaving opponents little room to play through them, and a deep-lying forward who never stops running operating behind a predator with the lightning pace to finish off their devastating counterattacks.

Seven of that XI have started at least 33 of 36 league games this season. Of the other four players, Okazaki has made the fewest starts with 27. Settled and consistent, the team is also vastly experienced. Schmeichel and the back four in front of him, together with Okazaki and Vardy, are aged 29 and over. They are men – not boys – and it has shown in their mental strength during the run-in.
Good fortune has played a part in their injury record and made it easy for Ranieri to pick the same team, yet pinning everything on luck overlooks the expertise and technology within the medical and sports science departments at Leicester, where Dave Rennie, the head physio, and Reeves leave no stone unturned.

The club has invested in a Cryo Chamber unit, where players are exposed to temperatures of -135 degrees to aid their recovery. They use other technology that is more commonplace at the highest level, such as the Catapult GPS system and Polar Team2 heart-rate monitors, regularly issue electronic questionnaires to gauge everything from energy levels to sleep patterns but, perhaps most importantly of all, strive to create an environment where everybody talks to each other.

In the end it is about a meeting of minds. Ranieri wants players training and the medical staff need to minimise the risk of injury, so sometimes it is a case of searching for that middle ground, even if that means sticking an exercise bike on the side of the pitch during a tactical session and getting a player to pedal away while the manager makes his point. That is what happened at Leicester’s training ground a few weeks ago and meant that the player in question knew his role come matchday and never aggravated his injury in the leadup. Everyone was happy.

It is not rocket science and, as we know from watching Leicester this season, nor does it need to be. In a game that is often overcomplicated and increasingly obsessed with statistics, the percentages show that Ranieri’s team are in the bottom three for possession and that only West Bromwich Albion have a lower pass completion rate, yet the only table that matters – in the absence of one that quantifies teamwork – shows Leicester City with an unassailable lead at the top of the Premier League. We should all enjoy that sight.

7 Reasons Leicester City won the Premier League

Diversity is the winner here

How Leicester City beat the odds to win the Premier League

Like Father, Like Son – The Schmeichels

The Leicester City Story – Premier League Download

The Leicester City Story

UK Vacay Part 1: Stereotypes

I have previously mentioned that my husband is from England, so because of that we recently had the pleasure of traveling to the UK to visit family. This is the fifth time I have been there, and each time I am reminded of the vast differences between English and American cultures, as well as the opinion of Americans by the British people. On my first visit, I got into a deep discussion with a perfect stranger about why the general English population do not absolutely adore Americans. It had much to do with entitlement and superiority. Add to that the stereotype that follows Americans around of being brash and loud during every possible occasion, and I suppose it does not leave much to like. By the end of the conversation, I think that I had convinced him that not all Americans act like frat boys on a daily basis and generally do refrain from walking up and down the streets chanting “MURICA, WOOOOOOOO!”

This photo is clearly a joke, but unfortunately it is how many people in other countries do believe American’s behave. I am proud of the country in which I live, but I did take his words to heart and for the rest of my visit made an extra effort to smile and be overly polite to everyone that I met, in the hopes that others would take notice and hopefully have a slight change of opinion about all Americans. On this most recent visit, I was concerned about how myself and my family would be perceived, largely because of the current political situation in our country. We mostly just received questions, mainly “Who are you voting for?”, but I still felt as though judgement could be cast because of a certain presidential candidate.
I bring all of this up because it’s important to remember that stereotypes can be dangerous. They can make us disregard people based simply upon outward appearances, accents or even profession. If my husband and I had decided that all car salesmen were slimy liars, then we never would have met Bruce at a local Chevrolet dealership, who was an angel and time and again went out of his way to get us a great deal on a car. If you’re at your place of business and see someone walk in the door who looks different than you, and you assume that they will not create much business, you could possibly miss out on a great opportunity. If my husband had believed that all Americans were rude and slovenly, then he may not have come here for coaching opportunities and we wouldn’t have two beautiful boys.
So next time you are prepared to assume the worst about someone based on outward appearances, remember that you could be missing out on something great and should take the time to look a little deeper.

The danger of casting judgement

As a retail owner, manager or employee you get to know the people who frequent your store, and the type of people you can expect to shop there.  If you work at Forever 21, you would not expect to see an elderly man browsing your racks, just like it would be surprising to see a teenage girl shopping at Brooks Brothers.  But is that to say they can’t, or should be looked upon differently for being there?  Maybe the man is looking for a shirt for his granddaughter; maybe the girl is shopping for a tie for Father’s Day.  I bring this up because when I occasionally have to make a visit to an atypical store, I sometimes feel uncomfortable upon walking in, but always appreciate when I am treated as though I belong there and am given the help that I so obviously need.  I recently painted a few rooms in my home and although I considered shopping for paint at a big box store, I remembered the last couple of times I looked for paint there and the negative experiences I had.  Somehow in the 21st century, the employees who “helped” me still acted as though a woman does not belong in a hardware store.  I was treated as though I were someone with silly requests, and they were too bored to bother fulfilling them.  So instead, I made the decision to pay a little extra and go to my favorite hardware store, Westlake Ace Hardware.  When I go into this store, I am immediately greeted and treated with respect.  When I select my paint color and inevitably have to return for adjustments to be made, the associates working with me have always been patient and made it very clear that they will go back as many times as I need to get the perfect color.  On the rare occasion I need to visit a hardware store for reasons other than painting or planting, I know that there is no way I will be left searching up and down aisles for what I need, which is what seems to happen at bigger stores.  At Ace, someone always finds me and offers to help.  When I leave, I feel satisfied and usually always have a smile on my face due to the friendly nature of the employees.

Next time you are at your retail location and someone walks in who doesn’t look like they belong, don’t let this happen to you:

Instead, treat everyone who walks in the door with respect, you never know how you can impact their day!