Friday – this week I am grateful for … excellent service

You may have read about my return to work. You may also have read my Massive Rant about Consumer Goods. Today I am grateful that my return to the workplace will be *ah hem* a well supported one. I have just returned from one of Canberra’s finest retail establishments, laden down with new underwear.

hmmm conical bra

I was startled to read on Mamamia that ‘lapsed fashion, same old underwear’ was cited by those interviewed as a reason to leave a relationship at the 3 year mark. We are past the 3 year mark – but only just. Mr Lovely and I have crammed a lot in. Including our lovely boy. I am, for reasons of economy, still wearing my maternity undies. While no one has needed quick access to my boobs, for nutritional reasons, for a while now, there was still no reason, before this week, to give those expensive but comfortable maternity bras the flick just yet.

Suddenly there are two reasons. A survey contained a statistic that told me it was a factor in ending relationships (it must therefore be true) and I have to go to work. I have to protect my fragile but vitally important reputation as a professional by dressing and acting like one. Work, where people will see me up close; and they won’t be the people to whom I can proffer excuses  like ‘can’t be arsed’, or my favourite ‘it’s a bit how-you-going round here today’* – which freely translated means, I am still in my pj’s, haven’t done my hair, there is a kid smearing Vegemite along the wall and there are probably a pile of dishes in the sink. These code words are usually fine for my mama friends also in the midst of mothering, who will have offered the same words to me when I race over to their houses to borrow something or collect a lost sippy cup. The excuse ‘can’t be arsed’ is really not appropriate for work.

And I really have to wear shoes. Bugger it. I’ve been wearing three pairs of Birkenstock on rotation for fifteen months. Bye bye to that.

With all this in mind and a looming end to ‘free time’, I made my way to my shop of choice for underwear. It is an institution this shop. It is owned and run by a totally fantastic woman, let’s call her Fil (for that is her name). What I really love about Fil is that when I walk in, she is pleased to see me. She remembers my name. She knows what I like. She keeps records of what I have bought. She knows about my family. She remembers.

When I told her I was going back to work she started to cry. For Benedict. She understands the pain of separation. She quizzed me about the childcare – checking to make sure it was ok.  She was complementary about how my body had fared in its recovery from pregnancy and early mothering.** Fil fitted me carefully. She asked questions about how often I was working to make sure I was buying what I needed. She gave me advice about sorting out my wardrobe so I was ready for the morning chaos and mayhem of getting out of the house with child and man in tow. (Man would argue I am being towed, but let’s leave Fil to think it is ME who is the driving force.)

She gave me permission to throw away some of the maternity bras – she told me exactly how long I had had them and that it was long enough – but not others, which she thought would still be worth wearing for a while. It is not all about the money for Fil. It is about service. About people and making them feel good about themselves. It is skill, she’s highly trained. But it is also a gift. Fil is turned out in a way that I never could be. Nails perfect, hair smooth and done. Sky scraper killer heels. Ordinarily it would be enough to send me running. What is perfect about her, is that she doesn’t judge. She cares for people. She doesn’t care that I am wearing jeans and Birkenstocks. She doesn’t care that I say no to the expensive undies. She cares that she has provided service and advice and that what I am buying fits me and suits my life.

When I am getting dressed next Friday I will pull a complete ensemble out of the wardrobe. The hanger will have a whole outfit on it – right down to knickers. It will be easy to get dressed and it will make me feel good and less stressed. I will thank Fil then for her care and attention. Now if I could just get someone else to come over and sort out the wardrobe for me; then my life really would be perfect.

* Not really sure where this expression ‘a bit how-you-going’ comes from. But I have said it a lot in the past twelve months.

** Man would say that I only listen to this sort of thing when it comes from someone else. To him I say, I always listen, even if I rebuff the kind words. It does make a difference.