Friday, July 16, 2010

Stretching Beyond

It's "safe" to stay within our comfort zones. But what happens when we stretch beyond our regular routines? Recently I set up my jewelry display to vend at ... an army base mini-mall. Mall and military base are not my normally hang outs. Art fair, trunk show, rock shop are more my normal display venues. I was in for a three day cultural adventure.

Getting through the front gate is no easy task. Remember to have all your ID ++ and be ready for the super search. That's right. Open all your doors and car hood and relax as they inspect for car bombs.

Once inside and setting up, it was all a very very pleasant surprise. Immediately an older gentleman came over and bought two bracelets for his wife and daughter. Then the more seasoned vendors came over to meet me and my goods.

The highlight for me, and likely for all the regulars, were the traveling vendors. Many move from base to base as they make their circuit across the country. That week a pair of young Israeli gals were selling a high tech hair straightener and curling iron. Leah and Merav became instant friends to all with their relaxed manner and affable style. This was how they were bank rolling their trip around the world -- a three month stint hawking an expensive appliance at the military bases. You might think, "who would by that thing?" I will tell you, "there were few women who turned these charming young women down."

As I sat quietly at my table hoping some one would come admire my wares, those lovely young ladies were roping them in, doing their hair and sending them off with a $100 box. To entertain myself, I would have them do my hair and offer them little gems as a tip.

After three days, I found my sense of comfort and thoroughly enjoyed conversations with many PX visitors. Several more men came to shop for their wives. Many young mothers stopped to enjoy my eclectic style. And one visiting military wife from another base spoiled me as she bought gifts for herself and a friend. I felt rich with genuine social interactions, new perspectives on business ventures (like touring the country by vending at the military bases?!!), and meeting many different types of folks who walk through the doors of the PX.

I'm soooooo glad I took the opportunity to stretch beyond my normal patterns and experience all these wonderful new folks and perspectives.

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