Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"I like your dreads"

Who doesn't like a heartfelt compliment? You know that fantastic feeling-like-a-million-bucks moment when you're walking down the street in your flashy coat you finally got to wear after buying it on an off season discount last summer and a complete stranger goes "Nice coat!" ... Yeaah!! Feels good.

I'll never forget the first time someone complimented my dreads. Like most newbies, my locs looked awful. I frequently covered them up with a scarf in the style of a thick headband just so I could walk out the door. And then, out of nowhere, the cashier at the gas station said to me -- I remember it word for word -- "How did you get your hair to dread so fast?" I kid you not, I collapsed on the candy counter and said "Thank you!!!" like she had offered me a sip of water in the desert.

Slowly, as my locs began to mature, the compliments increased. People with silver hair couldn't wait to tell me how much they liked my look because they used to be hippies, you know. Teenage misfits too cool to speak to anyone would set aside two very special words for me: "Sweet hair." Many would gush or ask questions, but the most common compliment to this day was the simple "I like your dreads."

At first all the attention made me blush and say thank you to the sidewalk. Sometimes it still does. But as time went on, I got used to and even slightly annoyed with the ubiquitous "I like your dreads." A lot of times, this said more about the other person than me. They tended to look very proud of themselves, perhaps because they aren't used to complimenting strangers. Or some of them would linger and want to start a conversation with me, which I'm afraid isn't easy to do. Many yell it out of their car windows and are gone before I can respond.

One day, I went to a hip little pasta shack in a beach town that had vegan mac 'n cheese on the menu. Yummm! I would tell you where it was but I could easily make just as good of a dish at home for half the cost so we'll leave that little detail out. Anyway, the owner himself was dreaded and as I walked in he beamed and said, "Wow! You got a new 'do!"

I smiled and said "Yeah!" but there was a bit of an echo in the pasta joint. I turned to see that his apparently very dear friend standing behind me got a new cut and color, and accepted the compliment intended for her. Woops.

I'm still looking for the middle path between thanking the sidewalk and accepting compliments intended for others. Like my dreads, I'm a work in progress. In the meantime, I'm going to try to say nice things to strangers, and loved ones for that matter, more often.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

HIRED: Assistant Dog Walker

As you may recall, my adventures in hiring left off at saying "thanks but no thanks" to the most mediocre person I could find on Craigslist. I spent the better part of the following year wandering around aimlessly and complaining that good help is hard to find.

Then one day out of nowhere a client of mine, who is also self-employed, mentioned that one of her clients was looking for a way out of her job at a local vet. I wasn't very thrilled, after the number of false starts I had been through. "Oh," I said feigning interest, "well give her my email and have her send a resume and cover letter." She did, and to my utmost surprise, she was qualified! I tried not to pee my pants as I set up an interview with her.

She was on time, smart, professional, compassionate, and *gasp* nearly vegan. Obviously, she got the job. The only snag was that being an Independent Contractor with tax responsibility and variable job security scared the bejezzus out of her. I knew the feeling all too well. When I first got started, I could barely make ends meet. I called my dad sobbing that I couldn't afford groceries and almost had to go to the food bank. Now, when I go to the grocery store, I try to pick up something to put in the handy little food bank cart.

Her part time status notwithstanding, I was thrilled to have my mini-me helper. Except she's taller than I. We still couldn't take new clients, but all the overflow went to her. Goodbye 13 hour days! I have so many clients in the same neighborhood, that I frequently caught her doing her job. Amazing! I was so inspired by this that I decided to go all out and start advertising for a weekend helper on www.Indeed.com. The first job you post with them is free, after that the charges start at $5 per day (lame).

I interviewed one person from Indeed. She said she had worked at my former vet. I didn't remember her, and hated that vet. She also had a little smudge on her criminal history. Who knew her now ex-boyfriend would ask her to pawn a stolen item? And there was no thank you note after the interview.

Speaking (or writing) of which, what the hell ever happened to the interview thank you note? Am I getting old? Come on people, nothing seals the deal like a well written thank you letter.

Anyway, the deciding factor on this interviewee was that my clients often ask if my contractor is going to be "As good as you" or "Just like you, right?" Well, Mini-Me is quite a bit like me, all the way down to the tattoos and plant based eating. But this interviewee ... wasn't the right fit.

Then, Santa Claus put a gift in my stocking. Mini-Me was on the receiving end of the last straw at her vet job. She quit and now she's all mine! I could call off the interviews for weekend help!

I'm beyond excited, but also scared. With great power comes great responsibility, Spider Man. I need to take good care of Mini-Me. I need to make sure she has enough work, feels appreciated, and is heard. I take her to coffee every week. I pay her on time. I check in regularly. Holy crap, I'm a Boss!