Wednesday, January 31, 2007


as with most any job, there are times when work becomes dull and repetitious. it happens to the best of us. sometimes you're just not in the mood. sometimes your mind is elsewhere. many days, i'm alone in the studio working on designs, singing along loudly as my ipod blares whatever. its a pretty relaxed environment, but without much interaction with other people, i resort to creating my own entertainment. little games. personal challenges.

people don't come into the gallery too often. on an average day, we'll get maybe 3 or 4 unexpected visits. stained glass isn't much of an impulse buy item. i can usually be found in the back diligently chipping away on the progress of a project until i hear the bells jingle. in the event that the bells on the front door clang, its my duty to greet whom ever and give them the spiel. usually i open with a friendly, "hello, can i help you or answer any questions for ya?". no matter what, eventually, i dole out my speech.

i go on about how long we've been in this location, what kind of services and products we offer, how we do all custom work, how we are great and nice and yada, yada, yada. its become a mantra. i could write it down in the dark.

some days, to keep it interesting, i'll create a theme to my dealings with customers. one of my favorites is "the roaring twenties" (keep in mind, this is what i do when i'm by myself). since many of the people who come in are of the senior persuasion, i thought i could strike up more interest in them if i spoke their language. at least something close. i googled for depression era slang and printed out a list.

the first time was an experiment. i memorized two words and tried to squeeze them into our exchange anywhere i could. i just wanted to see if anyone would call me out on it, even question me on what i was talking about, but they didn't. no one did. i'd salt and pepper my dialogue and they'd just roll with it. out of necessity, the game evolved in order to survive. i started to see how much slang i could get in. this is harder than one might think. most of the words and phrases revolved around alternative words for men and women so my reservoir wasn't as full as i had originally thought. i really tried to hear the question, "what do you mean?", but it never came. once i came close. a couple asked me if our work was expensive. i responded, "Our pieces aren't orchids, but you'll need a little heavy sugar." the woman looked puzzled and started to speak but her husband cut her off with another question. this past week, i've started to integrate trucker jargon. its easy to ask for someone's "handle" and "20" as they fill out a sheet with their contact information. finding ways to work the words in is tough, but keeping a straight face takes all i've got. if you can't sell it as normal, the proverbial jig is up.

go out, attempt it and see. try saying "Now you're on the trolley!" or "It's the berries!" to a total stranger with complete seriousness. without an explanation. without even smiling.

1 comment:

Tim Engelhardt said...

That is the funniest thing I have heard in a while. I find that I use terms that are maybe not quite as "lost" on folks. The term "peach". It's a peach of deal.
Perhaps you could work accents into your routine. Upper mid-western for example.