While checking out at the dollar store, I heard a customer ask for an eyeglass repair kit. She asked my checker and then asked another store assistant.
“Um…I don’t think we have anything like that.” Both clerks seemed unsure.
Since I like to be helpful, I butted in and pointed her to the rack with reading glasses. “Most places keep them with those magnifiers,” I offered.
The customer found the little kits and thanked me profusely, calling me “Ma’am.”
I went out of the store with my purchase, thinking, I know stuff! I know more about how retail stores work than the people who work there.
I can’t begin to tell you how much stuff I know, a good deal of it useful.
I know how to trim tree branches properly and I know to add a few grains of salt to the coffee pot when brewing with filtered water. I know to not pop blisters on bad sunburn; to soak ant bites in Epsom salt and I know to face a snarling dog. I know tricks to raise my credit score and I know how to reduce the principal on a loan. I know how to write a will, how to oversee a trust fund and do a tax return for a business. I know how to save seeds from heirloom tomatoes.
I have read and I have listened to advice but mostly I’ve just lived a long time, made mistakes and tried things.
I knew where the eyeglass repair kits are kept because I recently wasted a lot of time looking for a magnifying glass that store clerks said they didn’t think they stocked. (I found one with the readers and one with the office supplies.)
I have worked a total of about twelve years in retail and there’s a certain logic to how stores are organized. I worked as an executive secretary for 30 and as a legal secretary for three. I packed pop bottles back when they were glass. I served up ice cream at Dairy Queen. I baby sat three kids one summer. I have done graphic art for book authors, coal mining entities and municipalities, an architect and an equestrian camp. I know how to bind a book and design a kitchen.
I’ve been poorer than Ol’ Job’s Turkey so I know how to make a meal with beans, rice, cornmeal and powdered milk. I know stuff about living in the woods with no electricity and no indoor plumbing. I know how to cook on a wood stove.
I’ve cruised in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. I know how to get a passport and the best ways to pack for overseas travel. I know a little bit about the airports at Frankfort, Tokyo, Tel Aviv and Hong Kong. And Dallas; don’t forget Dallas!
I am so amazed at how much stuff I know, I think all my kids and grandkids should be calling or texting continually with a stream of questions.
Yet, I also know enough about human nature to know it won’t occur to them to ask me. They will learn things the way I did: by experience, also known as The School of Hard Knocks.