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Closed means open

While in college, my part time job was selling ladies' shoes. This was when salesmen actually helped each shopper fit a pair of shoes. Only demonstration shoes were on display. The salesman would use a chrome and black measuring device to ascertain the shoe size, and then retrieve the requested shoe. Sounds archaic, right?

When I transferred from Dallas to Springfield, a great job opened up at a small family-owned ladies' shoe store just off the downtown square. An elderly couple owned the store and I quickly became one of their “sons.” During orientation, Mr. “Bob” gave me training on how to fit a shoe when the shoe does not fit.

The tool shop in back contained ancient and diabolical metal and wooden gadgets that looked like the Heretic’s Fork of medieval times. And they still worked!

When a customer visited, my first task was to discover what style of shoe was preferred. The next step was to diagnose their foot irregularities. Teenagers just wanted shoes like their friends. As long as they could get them on they were pleased. Quick sale!

But the seasoned customers usually required innovation. If they had bunions, corns, ingrown toenails, Plantar fasciitis, blisters, heel spurs, or anything else, my mission was to make the desired shoe fit, but without pain. That’s where the “tool shop” helped.

Soon, I learned how to use a pair of iron Lightning Bunion Pliers, chrome flexible splits, and a generous dose of liquid stretcher (called sammied) to mold the shoe. While the customer had a cup of coffee, I was in the back fighting shoe leather.

There was another piece of advice Mr. “Bob” gave me that has gone with me for life. He pointed out the sign on the door and asked me to read it. The sign said “CLOSED.” Then he said, “David, always remember, when that sign says ‘CLOSED’ we are open.” In other words, no goofing off when the business is open. Always be ready, cheerful and knowledgeable, to serve the customer

Mr. “Bob” wanted me to see the business as he saw it. It was his shop, but he wanted me to view it as my own. Good employees will always try to see the business from the perspective of the owner. Often the employee’s vision is day to day, while the owner is looking year to year. An employee may be concerned about receiving a promotion, while the owner is looking to promote the business. It’s about vision and perspective.

The Christian constantly must seek God’s viewpoint, too. God has a unique perspective. Isaiah 55:8, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts’ says the LORD.” With David we should pray, “Open my eyes, Lord.” (Psalm 119:18)

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