It was a rainy evening and there weren’t many people at the shop.  I busied myself, straightening the shelves where we sold our journals, which is one of my favorite places in the store.  The candle’s scent of citrus and vanilla, along with the mellow tunes of  Alina Baraz from our sound system, lulled me into a place of contentment. 

A modestly dressed woman in her sixties walked into the store and began to browse.   Now I love browsers, because I am one.   Often it is more about the experience of shopping than buying -- the creativity and imagination of colors, fashion, function.  

And I’m curious about people – knowing there is often a place for a connection.

I smiled and asked her if she was looking for anything and mentioned today was the last day of our home goods sale with linens, candles, and ceramics 20% off.  She returned my smile, and shared she had just randomly come into the store.  “I thought I would treat myself to something special,” she said. “I just need a little pick-up.”

Of course, my job is to sell, but “poof” that went out the window in a heartbeat, and I stopped to listen.  

We walked through the store together, as she told me about her life, her loneliness, her estrangement with her daughter living across country.  So, we talked about daughters for a while, and before too long we were in deeper discussions about letting go and flirted with topics of spirituality.

I’m a talker, but I listened and listened some more, and a few tears fell from her eyes.  Soon we were at the perfume counter and she asked me which one was my favorite.  I told her – an old-world scent of jasmine and blood oranges, that reminded me of Sicily, and her tears dried as she tested the scent.  Soon we were laughing, talking about silly things and she touched my arm and said, “Thank you,I just needed to talk with someone who would listen. “

I was humbled.

I left her side when another customer asked for my help.  But I watched ‘my friend’ who continued to shop the store.  Soon I saw her at the check-out counter, her hands full and I waved to her as she held up the bottle of my favorite cologne.  Then she stepped aside and walked to me and said, “Every time I wear it, I will feel better, knowing you care.”

Sometimes it’s the little things, of connecting by listening from our hearts when we can make the most difference to someone. It’s what Conscientious Leaders do.

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