You Can Call Me Sweetie.

The pharmacist called out “just a second, sweetie” as I walked away – no doubt to alert me to something I’d forgotten at the counter.  At least I think he was talking to me, so I turned around and gave him a smile.  Though I’m likely older than his mother, I never take a term of endearment for granted.  One good one can make my day. 

Back when women were supposed to consider it demeaning, I never took exception to familiar forms of address. For me, no matter what the speaker’s intent, the whole issue hinges on the recipient’s attitude.  Even if the person doing the talking may be trying for a bit of sarcasm with the “well, sweetheart” line or the “sure, sure, darlin” stuff, I choose to accept it all quite literally. In fact, if you call out any of these cozy words and I’m nearby, I’ll answer.

You know those old movies where a hard-bitten restaurant coffee-pourer or short-order cook addresses the waiting customer in that very familiar way – ”just a minute hon” or “be right with you, cutie,” and in that context it’s a phrase meant to establish who’s in charge here and that you’ll wait your turn like all the other customers?  Well, not only do I not consider that insulting, but I find those scenes and those phrases oddly comforting.  

People who object to this level of familiarity say it comes down to respect, and that these forms of address are inappropriate among people who haven’t been introduced.

I say it’s better than being ignored. So you can call me “sweetie” anytime. 

Ó By Anita Garner 2008

Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer

Anticipating the next Fearless Flyer!

I’m embarrassed to admit how much I miss receiving Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer in the mail. I live in a small town in northern California a bit too far away from my nearest Trader Joe’s. Once in a while I make a trip to the nearest store, but living outside their neighborhood means they don’t mail me their periodic “Fearless Flyer.” After spending decades living close to Trader’s, this has been a serious adjustment. Here’s how the company describes their mailer:

“The Fearless Flyer has been likened to a cross between Consumer Reports and Mad Magazine. We’re not sure who said that, but we think they pretty much got it right. The Fearless Flyer is kind of like a newsletter, a catalog and a bit of a comic book all at the same time. It’s our chance to give you loads of interesting (hopefully) information about our products. And along the way, we like to toss in some witty (we try) tidbits and even a few old-fashioned cartoons.” Trader Joe’s ® 2008

There’s a rumor that a new store will open next year within five minutes of my house. The very best part is that  I will be back on the Fearless Flyer mailing list.

I can skip a New Year’s celebration because a nearby Trader’s is gift enough to start the year. Sounding a bit over the top, you think? Not at all. I like food. I like to cook. I like saving money on what I cook.

I also enjoy good writing and respect smart marketing. I spent years working in advertising and Trader’s gets five stars from me in all those areas. I’ve seldom (if ever) seen a case of marketing strategy so well matched with in-store follow-through, seldom have I seen a case of advertising that is this clever and straightforward and entertaining and – yes – absolutely true.

Trader’s print and radio ads are fun all by themselves.

If you don’t yet know about Trader Joe’s, I hope one will soon open in your area, because after it does, you’ll likely plan your grocery shopping around it. And now in a completely unsolicited final plug, here’s a link to their website. Feel free to click and enjoy for yourself.

http://www.traderjoes.com/radio_flyer.html

Counting down to the announcement of the official opening date of my new Trader Joe’s, here’s my pledge: I will never take you for granted again.

Ó By Anita Garner

What Are You Looking At?

Ever try to go unnoticed?  Well then you know the natural outcome – if you don’t want to be looked at, people won’t be able to stop looking.

Some people spend a lifetime enjoying being the center of attention, starting as class clowns in grade school.  Others want to disappear. For most of us, it’s probably somewhere in the middle – wanting people to notice when we’re all cleaned up, and when we’re not looking or feeling our best, it would be nice to be ignored.

People will stare – because of unusual physical traits or because we’re caught in a place where we aren’t expected to be, and because sometimes onlookers are rude. This is rattling to the spirit.  

Crossing a bridge over a creek last week, I watched a crane or some other kind of oddly tall bird with very skinny legs, standing absolutely still, pretending he wasn’t there. Though we made eye contact – if a crane can be said to make eye contact – he ignored me. While he tried to act like a statue of a crane, he was the center of attention. 

He stood in a spot where generally only ducks (and the people who watch ducks) gather. He was in the water barely up to his ankles – if cranes can be said to have ankles – while the rest of the waterfowl dipped and swooped and floated. 

When we meet people with outstanding physical characteristics – some incredibly good-looking and some missing features that others have, it’s enlightening to note that many of them don’t seem to waste a minute on their differences.  Proof that it can be done. The lesson we’re all trying to learn is to accept that our physicality is only a fraction of who we are.

For the times when the crane finds himself a bit off-course, in a body of water that’s too small for his exceptional self, a sense of humor might be helpful – if a crane can be said to have a sense of humor.

Ó Anita Garner 

Putting On A Cell Phone Show

Every cell phone is a potential camera and a potential record of something embarrassing we’re doing right now.  Strangers can hold up a phone and send a picture of us anywhere. But that’s not the most intrusive thing cell phones can do.

 

Worse are the performances we’re forced to watch against our will.  Lately everywhere I go, cell phones are treated as stages, with the holder of the phone putting on a show.  The trouble is, I didn’t buy a ticket nor do I want to get in for free. 

 

I just came back from Starbucks, a confined space, where several people in different corners of the coffee emporium were busy working on productions that were too big for the room. 

 

One man paced back and forth between tables.  Another was loudly talking into his phone about something he needed everyone to know about him.  He tossed around the word “millions.”  This guy reminded me of the olden days when one man puffed up a story like that while acting as wingman for his buddy at the bar. 

 

A woman raised her voice telling someone on the other end of a conversation what an awful week she had. She named names.

 

A man pushed open the door, stood in the center of the room and shouted into his phone, “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”  He turned around to scan the line waiting to order.  This was no quiet little glance.  It was a large whoosh of a turn. Then he spun back around, and projecting like one of the Redgraves, he said, “Go ahead.  Get started.  Ten minutes.  Yes.  Start now and I’ll be there.”

 

All of these performances break two rules of show business.  Rule number one:  If you’re going to draw attention to yourself, don’t be boring.  Rule number two: (If this isn’t a rule it should be.) Be sure you have a willing audience. Willing does not include people who are stuck next to you because of coffee cravings.  

 

Do you ever wonder who’s on the other end of these conversations? One day, while I waited in the market checkout line, the man in front of me talked into his cell phone loudly enough for the people in the back of the store to hear, while the checker scanned his stuff. 

 

At first I thought, oh he’s letting his mate know he’s successfully completed a shopping list, but because of the responses, that notion was dispelled.  It was clear he and the person on the other end of the call were making a plan to do something tomorrow but the guy in the store couldn’t seem to think a thought without repeating it into the phone, so there was not only boring conversation, but also a recitation of products.  

 

Evidently some new rules were written since I read my manual.  Here’s the revision: If we own a cell phone we must talk into it at all times.  Loudly. And while we talk, we must pace up and down in a small space, the smaller the better.

 

While talking, imagine there is a camera pointed at us, recording our lives.  A producer may need this material one day.  I’ll leave you with a transcript of that supermarket conversation, and you decide if this is a reality show you’ll want to watch.

 

“Yeah.  Beans. Okay.  Tomorrow.  Rice.  Nine sounds good.  Tomatoes.  You off all day?  Bacon.  Nah, I’m going in first. Potatoes.  Just for a few minutes though.  Onions.”  

 

Ó Anita Garner 2008