Work was a bit wearing yesterday.
A recap: I manage a store, and have worked there for about 15 years, less a sabbatical at a museum. Last summer, we opened a second branch in a nearby town. (It happens that this other town is our big football rival, and don’t think that doesn’t matter.) At the end of March, we will be closing the first store. I will be doing some of the many things I haven’t been able to do much of for the store hitherto because I was managing the store: doing vendor tables at conferences and curriculum fairs, visiting the schools, doing workshops and inservices, writing stuff…. In particular, we want to make our website successful.
But the basic fact is this: we are closing our #1 store.
We got an advertising person to help us phrase this in flyers, letters, and emails. She said things like “We have more ordering options than ever before!” and used words like “consolidation” and “relocation.” All the messages mention a big “relocation sale” throughout the month of March. We have been relentlessly upbeat and never used the word “close.”
Yesterday, we started getting the word out.
It appears that the advertising person was successful, in that the people who come in say things like “Is it true? Are you really moving?” and “I hate it that you’re moving!” There may be a sense in which getting people to think we are moving is a plus.
However, so far I have mostly seen angry and unhappy people. They want to know if business was really that bad. They want me to know that they are not planning to go to that other store and are teed off that I would think they should. They don’t feel much better about the idea of shopping online, either. They resent the idea of our abandoning our town for the rival town.
There have been a few moments when I have wondered whether it hasn’t occurred to them that this might not be good news for me. For all they know, this means that I now have to drive all the way to the rival town every day. For all they know, this might mean that I will be unemployed. Not one person has asked about this. They are too busy berating me.
I expect the entire month to be like this.
Book Club was a bit of a break in the day. We discussed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, a book which everyone had enjoyed in spite of the overall unpleasantness. We thought of footbinding and compared it with corsets and girdles and high heeled shoes. We considered women’s complicity in their own oppression and that of their daughters. We debated whether it was acceptable for us to condemn the cultural norms of another society.
It was refreshing.
Today the sale begins, so perhaps we will see some people who are happy about the sale, rather than all angry or sad people. (Actually, I am keeping track of customer responses, and there were two people who were not upset. One even said, “I love you guys! I’ll drive there! I’ll keep comin’!” Bless her.)
Maybe we will be too busy for people to harangue me.