Friends, sewists, quiltmakers, lend me your ears!
The last few weeks of political upheaval in the United States has definitely shortened a lot of fuses, and sadly, it’s bleeding out in how we’re treating our fellow people.
My colleagues and I in the quilting industry have seen a notable uptick in the hostility of emails coming our way, and I want to appeal to everyone to just take a moment, and BREATHE.
Take a big, deep, breath, and a nice, slow exhale. *
And one more for luck… BREATHE.
There we go.
I’d like to tell you a wee bedtime story about the life of a small business owner in the quilt world. We are entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs, which means we get to choose which 18 hours of the day we’re going to work. For the most part, we wear all the hats, or at least all except the ones we can afford to hire out, and in quilting, the profits at our end of the food chain are modest enough that hiring out hats is a financial challenge. To say we are stretched thin is a king-sized (with hand-appliqued scalloped borders) understatement.
So when we get an email demanding that we do something RIGHT NOW OR ELSE, it’s hard to take. And considering we’re talking SEWING here, not a hold-up or a hostage situation, perhaps it’s a bit over the top.
First of all, please don’t start at DEFCON 3. It doesn’t leave us much room to solve the issue. You are welcome to be upset about something, and certainly welcome to let us know you want a different outcome from the one you’re getting, but starting at a heightened level of escalation, and then threatening me, is not likely to endear me to your cause. My most recent example of this was someone who wrote to tell me they didn’t like the roll-over newsletter sign-up thingy on my site. I appreciate that she wrote, and as it happened, it’s not working correctly so I have batted it over to my website guru (at $75 an hour) to sort out.
But at the end of the email, whose subject line was “Shame”, the writer closed with “Very annoying. I won’t buy any more of your patterns.”
I’d clutch my pearls if I actually owned any. No doubt this Lady of Perpetual Discontent righteously believes herself to be a genteel woman, sending me some shame.
Bless her heart.
This is not the first communication I’ve had in the last few weeks that resembles the short, barking tweet style of the current commander-in-chief, and I can’t say I think it’s a pretty thing for us to be modeling. Quilting is primarily built on the shoulders of kind women, helping other kind women to do kind things with needle and thread. I believe we are handily capable of rising above barking tweets at each other.
I think we might be forgetting that there’s a living, breathing human on the other end, who is actually doing her level best to do a good job. Emphasis on HUMAN. Which means we goof stuff up sometimes, and that stuff breaks sometimes, and that life gets terribly in the way sometimes. It means that it might take an email from you to let us know this thingy was broken because we don’t spend hours of our day looking for wiggles in our websites. The chances are we leave a periodic cookie offering to the internet angels, and the rest of the time cross our fingers fervently that it doesn’t all go haywire at a desperately inopportune moment. And even then, that doesn’t always work – I’m writing this to you from a coffee shop, slogging through my 8th day without internet service in my studio, and I bake a helluva lot of shortbread for people.
I do care that this thingy isn’t working properly, and I do care that my customer let me know she was having a tough time of it. But really… shame and a threat?
May I point out that we’re offering PATTERNS and FABRICS, not cures for cancer (if only a quilt could!) and that all this anxiety-laden urgency is just not useful. Truly, operating at that level is going to rust your insides, blow up your heart, and give you unattractive frown lines. Take it from the heart attack survivor here that it’s just not worth it. It gets up the hackles of the people you need on your side, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is far from her best when put on the defensive.
So please… BREATHE for a moment before you hit that keyboard. Perhaps even brew a cuppa** and think through your words before you type. Give us a chance to help you out before loading up your weapons, OK? We really DO care about you – why else would we be doing this?
Oh, and for those of you who send kind emails and attagirls… you cheer captains keep us going with your kindness, and it absolutely makes our days to receive your sweet missives. Keep ’em coming! THANK YOU!
* My favorite phone app for breathing is CALM
** I was drinking Tazo Zen while I wrote this. Hey, I can hear you laughing!!
My favorite version of Try A Little Tenderness is this one, by The Commitments.
Hey Sam! I think I have a spare set of pearls you can have! They are yours if you’d like them for times such as these! Breathing right along with you!
Hey not to worry, we or I should say I am right here and don’t plan on going anywhere.Your views are what you feel at the moment. If I don’t like them I know where the delete button is and on to the next one, right?
Take care, keep up the good work!
Thank you m’dear!
Some people just need to get over themselves. Scroll past it and move on!
You are the best. As for some other people who are mean from the start, I just have to shake my head and move past them–no heart attacks or ugly frown lines for me 🙂
The Commitments version of Try a Little Tenderness is my favorite too! thats all I got right now. ❤️
Love you, Sam. ????
Sorry people are being so mean to you.
You are a wonderful woman!
thank you for that vote of confidence! And actually – people have been way meaner to some of my friends (as always, I’m fighting for us all!)
I’m glad you feel comfortable enough to tell us how you feel in your blog. We are all with you and appreciate everything you do.
Don’t let her get to you – she must have an awful life if she gets that nasty over something like that. There’s a lot of us out here that have a much happier life enjoying what others have created and have to offer (and your creations are wonderful!). So breath and forget the few!!
But sorry, I do love Otis’ version……enjoy them both I guess! Sew on!!!!
Right??? I keep thinking, oh to have just that to be upset at!
Many years ago, my friend Fr. Leo O’Brien ended a church service by saying, “Let us be gentle with one another today.” I have been trying to live by those words every since. Your words are another reminder, Sam. Thank you!
Words to live by!
Crazy but just today I read a quote that sure applies to this. It goes
Ike this “don’t worry about someone who isn’t happy with you. Chances are they really aren’t happy with themselves.” So there you go! It’s her problem, not yours.
Bravo! It’s scary how easy it is for people to be nasty nowadays.
Oh Sam! I am so sorry. I loved your “Bless her heart”. Well said my friend.
Are you aware you can NOT stay mad if you smile? Yup! Try it!
When we get mad the first question we should ask ourselves: “Who is not doing something that “I” want them to do.”
If you answer that question honestly 99.9% of the time it is YOUR expectation not them! 🙂
I applaud you taking the higher ground. Holy Cheese on a Cracker here people. If you want to put that energy toward something important figure out how to end world hunger! THERE. Go! Do it!
I prefer to treat everyone as a friend I have yet to meet and I want them to have a good first impression of me. Why can’t we all do that? Say Hello! Wave at strangers! Be the source of the goodwill rather than demanding the receipt of it!