Emotional Baggage In Chicago
I'm currently in Chicago working for a few days. It's freelance work for an old friend (a Turkish leather designer) that I worked with for about seven years in New York City. After leaving New York and having Carter, I had no intention of staying within the fashion industry but when he called and asked if I would work on a freelance basis it was an easy yes. There are very few people I have met in my life (especially in this industry) who are as honest, accommodating, and as enlighted as this man and an incident on this trip has proved what I already believed about him and highlighted some work I need to do on myself.
This trip was a lot to arrange, manage, and finance for both myself and my boss. It's a good faith trip to cultivate business with a store that we feel is a good representative of the brand and will be mutually beneficial going forward. To make these trips work there are mutual concessions that are considered industry standard. We assume almost all the financial responsibility but do ask for the customer to make a small contribution. In the case of this trip, it was my hotel accommodation. All was set, and I flew out early Wednesday morning. Now, this trip my husband was not keen on me attending because financially it doesn't make much sense because of the high childcare cost. However, I felt strongly that because I made the introduction to this customer, I should be here for the event and actually paid money out of my own pocket to make it happen.
Well, it came as a complete shock last night while getting ready for bed I received a phone call from the front desk saying that the owner of the store had called earlier in the day and decided to remove her credit card. They asked that I, please pay before leaving in the morning. Of course, I won't be personally paying for it (the business will) but the news sent me into outer space. My mind and heart were racing and around 8 pm last night I saw red. I called the front desk to make sure there wasn't some initial misunderstanding on my part, and perhaps we were always meant to pay for the hotel. Alas no, this customer of ours had silently renigged on her contribution. Typically, this may not have been that big of a deal, but it was the way in which it was handled or in this case, not handled. Did it slip her mind to mention this to me? Did she think we might somehow forget the terms of our agreement? Better yet, does she think our time, energy, and contribution don't matter? Whatever the reasoning it's completely unacceptable behavior.
Thankfully, my boss (who isn't an alcoholic) practices acceptance on such a higher level that when I told him what was happening, he was cool as a cucumber. His position is not to say anything, pay the bill, move along, and learn from the experience. My alcoholic mind was in overdrive last night, and even still it makes my heart race. I want her to know how cowardly I think she is. I want her to see that she is wrong, like really really wrong. There are a million and one ways to have handled the situation and she managed to choose the one that puts her integrity on the line.
It's interesting because every trip I take with him I learn more and more about how he practices patience in his life and just how many times things like this happen. It's that part in AA where they say you need to take "life on life's terms" and to learn how to navigate challenging situations without losing your integrity. I want the street fight, but that's not going to happen. I have a mentor here who brought me back to the principles of AA (even if he doesn't know it) and I can gracefully walk away from this situation with my dignity and reputation intact.
So, what's the takeaway? For me, it's to practice more patience with my impulses and to learn from her behavior. I want to be someone who always offers honesty, and that there is always a way to work through stressful situations without putting my integrity on the line. Most importantly, I want to go home and love my family and to leave the emotional baggage from this trip here in Chicago.