Sometimes, the smallest gesture can convey a feeling of abundance. That’s a lesson I learned from my daughter when she was a teenager working at a candy counter. … Abundance. That’s what this episode, #26, is all about.
When my daughter, Laurie Neronha, was in high school, she worked part-time at the candy counter in a fancy department store in Hartford. She didn’t drive yet so I had provided transportation. I arrived early one day. So I watched as she helped several customers, thinking maybe I could give her a few customer service pointers later.
Each customer one ordered a pound of gourmet jelly beans. 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 quite a few years. I watched her scoop jelly beans, 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 orders 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.
Scenario #1: You ask the older woman for a pound of jelly beans. 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 many. Once more, she lowers the scoop into the bag and once more takes some of your candy away. Perfect. One pound.
Scenario #2: You ask Laurie for a pound of jelly beans. She smiles and 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 a few more. There. Perfect. One pound.
On the ride home, I asked Laurie why she didn’t save time and get closer to a pound with the first scoop — since I knew she could. She smiled and said, “Because it feels better to add jelly beans than to take them away.” “For you or your customer?” I asked. “Both of us.” … At just seventeen, she had developed a philosophy that has led to her success.
Now the owner of Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies, a national-award-winning skincare clinic in Providence, Rhode Island, Laurie has seven employees (8 counting herself), and a loyal clientele. In fact, she just won a national industry award for client retention. I’m proud of her, not only for her success but for her generous spirit.
This podcast is about ritual: a visible act performed with invisible intent. Back in high school, Laurie’s invisible intent was to affirm abundance in a person’s life. In the way she scooped jellybeans, she enacted a simple ritual of abundance. Where in your life can you do the same?
If you’re looking for an idea, begin with generosity. Bring a bag of groceries to your local food bank. For that feeling of abundance, include a few fancy items. Maybe that’s a bar of gourmet dark chocolate, or a tin of fancy tea, or a bag of paleo granola or yogurt covered raisins, a little jar of Fench mustard or local honey, a jug of REAL maple syrup. You know what I mean … the items YOU think of as treats.
Back in the 70s, my daughter and I went through what I still think of as the dark years. She was about 8 years old. We were living in the country, in a little house bordered on three sides by fields and woods. A disastrous and dangerous first marriage had taught me some serious lessons. I had a mortgage I couldn’t pay and a house I couldn’t sell. There were more days than I want to remember when the pantry was bare. Almost bare. I always had a jar of peanut butter. Laurie and I would each get a spoon, make a wish, and dip into the jar. That peanut butter wasn’t generic. It was Skippy. My idea of the best.
Having that jar of THAT peanut butter let me taste abundance. I’m happy to say that 7 years later, I remarried. By that time, I had learned how to recognize a good man…and, ever since then, my life has been abundant in the ways that count.
Thanksgiving will be here next week. Sometime THIS week, bring a box of groceries to your local food pantry. Include something special…like fancy peanut butter. Or, gourmet jelly beans.