Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | August 10, 2009

On the Job Tai Chi

So, I’m finding my groove at the shoe store. In the back, there are poles with a metal piece at the end for picking shoe boxes off the top shelves. On any given day, you can find me twirling this stick in the aisles, and trying to use it as deftly and lightly as possible. My weapons form is improving. On the selling floor, if it is slow, I’ve been sinking into horse stance, as inconspicuously as possible, and if it’s really slow, will do some tai chi walking around the floor, maybe even burst into a brushknee twist step or flower circle walk.

But the real tai chi comes not in the form of forms, but in the interaction of people. There are many opportunities to show compassion and love, to the families who come in with an elderly parent, out for the day from the nursing home, looking for a pair of shoes, or the young person with an odd sized foot.

There are also the people who look to take advantage. One person ordered 18 pairs of shoes on line and decided to return them all to my store, destroying my business for the day and the week in terms of numbers and comping to last year and all that jazz. Ans to boot, she was getting impatient with me because it was taking too long–this was on Saturday, our busiest day. It was really an unconscionable thing for her to do, though she probably didn’t realize it. I don’t know what was going on in her life to do it. But my patience–I’m a patient and soft guy when it comes to these things–was really wearing thin. But you bear with it, put your head down and do it, and throw in a smile to tell your brain that it’s ok. It takes tai chi skill to redirect the negative energy that comes your way, and it takes an awful lot of taoist wisdom to deal and adapt to the chaotic changes that come with life, but that’s the way to deal with it, isn’t it? The fantasy of winning the lottery is a nice past time, and it’s an interesting exercise in self understanding–what would you really do with all that money–but it’s better to deal with life with tai chi and taoism.

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