Point Of View

Have you ever had one of those "I never noticed that before" experiences? Of course you have.

Maybe it was when you crawled under a display rack to retrieve a favorite pen that had rolled off the counter, and you noticed that the flooring in your showroom is actually manufactured tile, not natural stone. Maybe you then rolled on your back to make your wing span a little longer (That darn pen is just out of reach!) and noticed the ugly acoustic-panel ceiling.

I had an entire weekend like that recently. My little friend Oliver, 10 months old, came — along with his parents — to visit me over a holiday weekend. My preparations for the much-anticipated visit began early. As a non-parent, I thought long and hard about the types of juice or milk or cereal I should have on hand. Where would Oliver sleep? Should I clear out a dresser drawer, I wondered, only half joking. I set about making sure everything below 24 inches was safe — or so I thought.

Oliver's mom reassured me (Did I mention that I'm not a parent?) that he actually came with most of his own accessories: a neat little folding crib, bedding, and all his own food. "OK!" I thought. "This will be just like having any other guest, only smaller."

Once my friends arrived, it only took five minutes to A.) fall in love with Ollie, and B.) feel like I was not in my own home. When I dropped to the kitchen floor to play a delightful game that involved wooden spoons and the dishwasher, I noticed mummified lima beans fraternizing with enormous dust bunnies — dust ponies, really — under the stove. When Ollie scuttled over to investigate the view from the window, I realized my blinds were fitted with fully operational baby-strangling devices (I quickly tied the cords in enormous bows and secured them above the drapery rod). And when Ollie tried the stairs, I noticed that the balusters were set at just the right interval to serve as effective baby stanchions.

It was a terrific weekend and there were no injuries. I've vacuumed up the lima beans, I like the drapery cords tied in bows and I'm already looking forward to Ollie's next visit. He'll be taking steps on his own by then, and he'll show me an entirely new set of things I hadn't noticed about my home.

I'm not suggesting you should crawl around on your showroom floor to get a different perspective. Ask someone very different from you (someone much older or much younger, or from a different culture) to tell you what they notice about your store. Drive through an unfamiliar neighborhood. Look up every now and again. Hopefully you'll notice something more interesting than old lima beans.

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