I don’t know how to articulate this, though I’ve touched on it before. I look forward to the coming day when I will leave the shop to new owners, but there will be things I miss. I’ll miss the girls obviously, though I expect to continue to see some in different circumstances. The challenge of optimising a business like this has its ups and downs, but overall it has been invigorating. And then there’s the customers. Having come from a corporate sector with very little direct customer interaction it’s been an eye-opener. I’ve really enjoyed it though.
Despite all the trials of my time here – or because of – I think I come out of it a better man. I’ve learnt so much, had to be humble, to adapt to a completely different environment from what I was familiar with, and learned to manage a bunch of young Asian women. All of that, and by dealing with customers face to face, day after day, I’ve learned so much more.
I’m lucky in that my shop is located in a ‘good’ area. Most of our clientele are reasonably well off, professional, educated, and engaged. To a man they are reasonable, friendly and understanding. I spend a lot of time just chatting, which is part of the job of course, but also a genuine pleasure. I’m proud of our service and I’m chuffed when anyone tells me how good we are. I feel proud for the girls. I’m curious though too. Meeting people in this fashion has opened me up to their myriad stories.
One of the things I’ve learned is that most people are fundamentally decent. Now that may be more true here – a liberal area – than other places, but it’s a nice thing to be reminded of. People want to help out. They want to give you a fair go. If they can spread their good fortune they will. They’re good people. Times as they are, when so many of those elements are absent from public life, it’s nice to be reassured that it’s not all bad.
About an hour ago an old guy approaching 80 was standing outside reading the spiel on Thai massage I’ve put in the window. He came in leaning heavily on his stick. He smiled, his lined face soft with age, and said he’d passed by so many times and thought how nice it looked and how it was about time he came in. He asked about our service, our prices, expressed regret that he had not brought his wallet with him, but next time he would.
We don’t get a lot of old people here, but I wish we did. I imagine when I get to his age I’d be all over it. I looked at him, a mix of fear and respect in my heart. He was slow and bent, and each time I see someone like that I fear that one day I’ll be the same. But though he spoke slowly he was bright still, a man still part of life, rather than retiring from it. I admired him. Go well, I thought.
Then a customer came down from getting a massage upstairs. He’d been left waiting initially because his therapist fell asleep! I’d told her about the massage, but she had slipped back into sleep. Very embarrassing for all of us, and we were very apologetic. He was fine though. He came down and once more I apologised, hope it was worth the wait. “No worries” he said, “great massage, thanks.”
That was that. No dramas. Understanding, reasonable, decent. Good things.