When my daughter, Laurie Neronha, was a senior in high school, she worked part-time in the candy section of a fancy department store. One afternoon, I watched her help several customers. Each one ordered a pound of gourmet jellybeans. Laurie was not the only employee on the candy counter. An older woman worked there as well. She seemed pleasant enough and, from what I overheard, had been with the store a number of years. I watched her scoop jellybeans, too. It didn’t take long to see that Laurie and the other woman had each developed a different technique. The difference explained why some customers would politely decline the other woman’s offer of help and wait in line for Laurie.
The procedure was to put a white paper bag on the scale, scoop up jellybeans from the giant glass bin, and pour the candy into the bag. Laurie said it took only a few weeks to know by the weight of the beans in the scoop how close she was to a pound. I can only assume the other woman had developed the same skill. So, imagine these two scenarios.
You ask the older woman for a pound of jellybeans. She places the white bag on the scale. She fills her scoop with candy and empties it into the bag. Oops. A few ounces over. She lowers the scoop into your bag and takes some candy out. She checks the scale again. No. Still too much. Once more, she lowers the scoop into the bag and once more takes some of your candy away. Perfect. One pound.
You ask Laurie for a pound of jellybeans. She tells you these gourmet beans are her favorite. She places the white bag on the scale. She scoops the candy and empties it into the bag. Oops. Not enough. She scoops up more candy from the giant bin and sprinkles more glistening gems into your bag. She checks the scale again. You need just a few more. There. Perfect. One pound.
I once asked Laurie why she didn’t get closer to a pound with the first scoop. She smiled. “Because it feels better to add jellybeans than to take them away.” At just seventeen, she had developed a philosophy that has led to her success. Now the owner of Viriditas, a thriving skincare clinic in Providence, Rhode Island, Laurie has two employees, a loyal clientele, and, no surprise, a growing wait list. I’m proud of her, not only for her success but for her generous spirit.
In scooping jellybeans, Laurie enacted a ritual of generosity. Where in your life can you do the same?