Over the years I’ve worked in quite a few different places within retail. Most days I love being around people. They give me so much food for thought. Even though I’ve had the pleasure to work with electronics (I love me some gadgets) and books (well you know how I feel about those), I have to say that working with glasses has so far been the one that I’ve enjoyed the most. I think the biggest reason for that is that my job is to actually help people that needs it. It’s not about selling a lot of things that people don’t need, It’s about helping them to actually see! I love it!
But this post was not supposed to be a gush of my love for the optical industry. It’s a plea to a few of you customers out there.
For the customer that yells at us when we ask when you’re born. For the ones who fumes and curses when they have to wait a few minutes to get help. For those who slam their fists on the counter when their product didn’t arrive on time. Those who curse and scream and threatens.
I get it! You have certain expectations, so do I. But sometimes it feels like the expectations that are set for serviceminded people in retail can be beyond ridiculous. Want to know a secret? We’re only humans, just like you.
We have our off days. We try our best to not let it show, but sometimes our best just doesn’t do the trick. Sometimes we falter in the areas that we normally succeed in. It’s life after all.
We get sick. So when you have to stand in line because there’s only one person working in the store, don’t forget that the person standing there could’ve already been working hours overtime trying to do the work usually done by two or more.
We are here to help you. Yes, that much I’m guessing you already knew. That however, does not mean that you can bully and boss us around. We genuinely want to help, and to give you the best experience possible, but we also expect to be treated like an equal. We put a lot of work and training into what we do, even though it is “just retail”.
The customer isn’t always right. I’m sorry to burst that bubble, but someone had to.
I’ve had customers screaming in my face when I tried (calmly) to tell them the rules of warranties and tax refunds. Rules that I could point out and show them, and still they yelled at me and told me I needed to learn to do my job better, just because I couldn’t give them the answer they wanted. I’ve had customers that said such cruel things to me (completely unprovoked) that I ended up crying afterwards. I’ve also had customers that felt it was okay to stare at my body instead of making eye contact while I was talking to them. I’ve gotten sexist jokes thrown my way more times than I can count.
Working in retail and with people can be overwhelming at times. And constantly being surrounded by strangers that demand your full attention can be hard.
So when you feel frustrated; Talk to us. Ask us your questions. Listen to the answers you’ll receive. Don’t bully, and don’t be rude.
Please, do not bite our heads off. Most likely, we are just trying to help.
To end this post on a more positive note; I want to mention how grateful I am to have received so many smiles, kind words, baked goods, flowers and hugs from customers over the years. Those are the moments that I choose to hold on to. I’ve learned so much about business, psychology, human behaviour, kindness, gratitude, and heard so many amazing stories from wonderful people. People I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with if it weren’t for my years being out on the floor in the business of retail.
It’s been a very interesting journey, and one that I’m still enjoying very much!
Be nice to one another. I guess that’s the message I’m trying to get through here.
Lots of love,
You always publish your books in Norway first, why is that?
Because Norway is my best market. It’s where I have my most enthusiastic readers and we’ve established a really great bond of trust over the years, so I’m very happy about that.
Do you get contacted by a lot of Norwegian readers?
I do! Especially when I’m in the midst of writing, I tend to disappear from the social media for a while, but when I’m coming back out again I reconnect with readers and they give me a lot of encouragement and enthusiasm.
But they seem to understand that I have to come and go from the social media.
How long did it take you to write Beauty for Ashes?
Well the whole research is such a big piece of it. So when you look at the research, the writing and the rewriting, it’s been almost two years.
That is a while. Were you sad to finish it, or was it a bit of a relief?
It was a bit of both. I do get very involved with the characters and I become very attached to them and I’m sad to see them go, but in a way they never leave. They’re always a part of me. But then there’s also the excitement of sharing it, getting the feedback. The editorial process too. There’s a lot of people involved in shaping it.
It’s a road. It’s a journey. It’s a team journey. A lot of people involved.
I actually like the process.
You used to work as a psychotherapist. How does that affect your writing?
In very profound ways, because I don’t think it would’ve ever occurred to me to become a writer if I hadn’t been a therapist first. For many years I was immersed by incredible stories, real life stories, and that’s what therapy is really; people needing to tell their stories and wanting to be heard and understood. It’s such an important part of the process. It just kind of evolved organically. I didn’t always dream of being a writer it just kind of grew on me over the years. It got to a point where I couldn’t not look at it. It was staring me in the face and it came to a point where I just had to do it, or I would feel a sense of defeat for the rest of my life.
Almost like a calling?
Yeah! It was like it came to me! It was like a little voice that just grew louder and louder and louder until it was impossible to ignore.
Do you ever miss your old job as a therapist?
I do sometimes, but I do feel that the writing is an extension of the old job in a way. It’s still using the same aspect of me. I want my books to be more than just a good read. I want them to be more than just fun and interesting. I want them to have a therapeutic aspect. I really do want my stories to encourage readers to ask questions about their life, their purpose and what’s happening in the world. Questions “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”.
I heard that you get up at 4.30am every morning to write.
Not as early all the time now, but usually around 5am.
That’s still pretty early! Do you have a specific morning routine?
I just need two cups of coffee and some quiet, and at that hour you can find it pretty easily. I have a dog. I take him for a walk and then he typically sits right at my feet while I write. If it’s cold, a blanket. I have three or four places in my home that I like to write, depending on what time of the year and where the light comes in. And I think that’s about it.
Do you do all of your writing at home?
I do all of the actual sitting at the keyboard at home, but I think a lot and reflect a lot. I get a lot of ideas when I’m out and about.
Did you have to travel a lot for your research for this book?
No, I didn’t travel. I did it all online, through videos and meeting some people. I never had to leave home.
You chose to have the story set in Las Vegas. Do you have a personal connection to the place?
I live very near to Las Vegas and I’ve been to Las Vegas many, many times so I know it. There’s that. But it also is one of the hubs for human trafficking. Las Vegas is one of the places where a lot of people end up. So it did just seem like a natural place to set the story.
But this kind of thing is happening everywhere. It’s happening in Norway as well. And that was one of the things that really struck me while working on this, that there’s really no place that isn’t somewhat affected by this. In a way there’s probably more slaves now than it’s ever been in the history of humanity.
Was it a tough process?
Yes, it was really difficult. I had to challenge myself, because there’s really no way of telling these stories without including some graphic scenes. That is not what I do or what I enjoy in terms of my own reading or entertainment. But it had to be there for it to be real. To tell the story right. So I did include it, but I think I didn’t overdo it.
Do you talk to your characters?
Yeah, sure! And they talk to me. Absolutely! I think they’re all psychologically projections of me. It has to be. I don’t think that’s just me, I think it’s like that for all authors. They have to dive into themselves to give the characters a story, a voice and a shape.
Final question; What are you going to miss most about Norway when you go back home?
Now that’s a tough one! I think it’ll have to be the people. The inspiration that I get from meeting my readers here. The sincere thanks and the excitement. That’s what I’m going to miss the most.
You should get a proper Norwegian cabin so you can take your vacations here.
Oh I would’ve loved it! I’ve seen some of the cabins and they are idyllic. It seems like a great place to write, while maybe overlooking the fjords.
Cecilia Samartin and her agency are now in the process of getting Beauty for Ashes published in other countries.
I can’t wait to read and review this book, and I wish Cecilia all the best of luck!
About a week ago, I was working on editing a video for YouTube while my nine year old son was watching videos on his laptop. After a little while I noticed that he was watching something that apparently had his undivided attention, and I got curious. I asked him what he was watching. He told me he was watching a documentary on NRK Super (a web/tv channel for kids) about a boy that was bullied.
Some minutes passed and I could hear the story that this boy told in the background while I was working. It was heartbreaking to hear the cruelty that was done to him by his classmates. They had locked him inside of a classroom, and they’d beaten him up pretty bad. He was talking about how it all happened, how it felt afterwards, and how they eventually had to move and start a new life somewhere else because the bullying wouldn’t stop.
Being a victim of bullying as a teenager myself, I always find it hard to listen to stories like this. The cruelty of kids that don’t think their actions through makes my heart ache. I turned to Leander and saw that he was crying, and it warmed my aching heart.
How lucky am I to have a child that feels such empathy. To be able to watch someone else bare their struggles and pain, and through what he saw, he could feel it all. He could feel it so much that he couldn’t hold it in. It was beautiful to see an emotion so pure, brought forth by information that he himself had gone searching for.
It’s easy as a parent to focus on all of the things that we feel like we have done wrong, or could have done differently. But watching him have this kind of reaction, and talking about bullying with him afterwards, hearing his thoughts, that was a moment where I truly felt that I had done something right. Somewhere along the road, growing up to be the little man that he is, he’s learned to care for others. To love them for who they are and the life they choose live, even though he might not agree with all of it. He’s learned to respect others and to try not to judge them.
I will not take complete credit for this, but the amount of time we’ve used to talk about life, people and choices, I know that’s played an important part in this.
I’m so grateful that my son already is a seeker of knowledge, and I’ll keep on encouraging him. To try to give him as many tools as possible for him to be able to make the choices that will be right for him.
And maybe most importantly, it’s important for me that he knows that crying is not a sign of weakness. To be comfortable enough to show your emotions is a strength that should not be taken for granted. It’s a superpower!