Reaching For The Stars

09:19 February 19, 2018
By: Debbie Lindsey

Yelp is my secular guidepost, my “What would Jesus do?” With due respect to those motivated by faith-based teachings, not all of us look in that direction for motivation to temper our behavior. My moral compass is stoked by parents who taught me right from wrong and a lifetime of friends and role models who inspire—and extreme guilt. Oh, guilt will motivate me. It picks at my underbelly until I come through on the side of right. 

Also, I am a fool for what folks think about me. Is this shallow? Maybe, but if it pushes me to go the extra distance, give a little more, care a bit more … then I say, fine. And for me, my inner Yelp picks up when a sense of pure right and wrong lacks sufficient strength to get me on the right path, or if my guilt is taking a hiatus. That need to have a five-star rating will get me through the most gut-wrenching annoyances. Except today.

Today, an elderly lady received a less-than-stellar response from me. She really pushed my buttons, and instead of drawing upon my inner Yelp, I snapped at her, tossed in a “gawddamn,” and slammed my door on her. It began when my tethered dog (nowhere close to her) commenced to barking as she opened our shop door and then retreated. Then, outside our shop, door closed and safely distanced from our little dog—who had retreated to her safe zone under the desk—this lady proceeded to tell us a gruesome story about a couple of dogs eating someone, and thus a tirade ensued against dogs, all dogs, and those who had dogs. I had had enough. Yet, now I feel like a bitch. My cosmic Yelp went into the negative stars and karmic hell now awaits me. Oh, you can see I do not need fear of hell to make me miserable.

I must cut myself some slack here—this is the first time in years that I let my inside voice come (full throttle) forth. I am practiced at the art of biting my tongue until near hemorrhaging (Boyfriend might say differently—but I promise the public ear hears a congenial voice—always—until today). There was the time a lady pulled her mace on my sweet, gentle, and NON-barking dog, and still I tried to be diplomatic and assuage her concern. Ah, the many times a customer places a cold drink sweating with condensation upon an expensive book, and I simply move it when they are not looking so as not to embarrass them. And when folks toss dirty diapers from their car in our parking lot, I ask them to PLEASE dispose of them in the trashcan I provide. Once, I even held off a burglar with a few “pleases” and, “Honey, I think you need to leave now.” 

"My cosmic Yelp went into the negative stars and karmic hell now awaits me."

Do I have a short temper and carry a grudge? Damn straight I do. But once again, what would Yelp say, what would Yelp do? My mantra of how I might be judged by Yelp the Almighty goes beyond my business. Everyone has a rating system of sorts, and I personally find it very satisfying for people to like me. A zillion years from now when I pass, I want my obit to read: “She was a damn good waitress,” and, “She always made me laugh.” Which brings me to my pre-conversion to Yelp. Before there was The Shop and the all-knowing eyes of Yelp, TripAdvisor, and social media, I aspired to goodness with my ongoing campaign to hold the title of Miss Congeniality.

When you are having a truly dreadful day and your thoughts and concerns are miles away, don’t you just want to smack the hell out of someone who says, “Smile”?  However, they have a point, a resting-bitch-face uses more muscles than a smile, and at my age, it’s an instant face lift. It’s also contagious. My personal motto: Smile like you ain’t got a lick of sense. Having spent 42 years waiting tables and slinging drinks, I can tell you that a sh*tty attitude doesn’t translate into tips. Sure, you can be honest with your customers and share your less-than-glorious day with them, but do it with humor and/or a compliment (“Thanks for your patience; this has been a stressful day.”). 

Or, this one I heard the other day in response to my phone inquiry as to whether their store would be open on Mardi Gras: “Oh, why ya wanna hurt my heart so?” Now, that employee did let us know her pain at having to work on that day, but never such a poignant, poetic, and only-in-New Orleans response have I ever heard before. It made our day—perhaps didn’t improve hers—yet she got to vent, and we were no worse for wear.

My father was fond of the “count to 10” method for stalling an angry outburst. He also believed in the “don’t burn any bridges” philosophy. Leaving a job and wish to exit with a “kiss my ass” farewell? Think twice. Choose your battles—some are righteous and some merely personality conflicts. That meathead you worked with might one day be your boss (and who knows, maybe he changed for the better).

Words and deeds can come back to haunt us. Diplomacy, tact, even a bit of passive aggression can save a moment, spare one’s feelings, perhaps even prevent some serious repercussions. So, I try to go to my inner Yelp and filter my responses to the folks who annoy, “hurt my heart so,” or who simply have the misfortune of catching me on a bad day and deserve far better than what I am feeling. And when my five-star goal lacks the clout to motivate me, then I will recall the good manners my momma taught me and make her proud.

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