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I had a busy and interesting weekend. On Saturday I participated in a charity walk around Manhattan. It is a 32 mile (50km) walk on the shorefront. I walked for 12hrs and most of the walk is pretty and gives you an interesting perspective of Manhattan.
While I was tired I managed most of the walk without stress but the last 6 miles are very hard as the exhaustion hits, every muscle hurts and my feet were burning. As it was Shabbat I was not carrying a bag and relying on public fountains and taps in restrooms for water. I did not realize in Southern Manhattan many of the parks areas are still closed off post Hurricane Sandy. I was so thirsty and there was nowhere to get water. It is an industrial area, everything was closed and we were walking under then FDR Highway. At some point I was so desperate that I was asking fellow walkers for a drink and drinking from strangers’ bottles - and if you know me and my germophobe ways you would know I was feeling desperate. It was cold, dark and rainy and I was not enjoying this final stretch. About 10 minutes from the end point I saw a store open in South Street Sea Port. It's an area that was devastated by the Hurricane and most stores are not open. I saw a candy store and thought, “Great I can get a drink.”
I was feeling really bad and did not feel I could walk the last 10 minutes as my head was spinning. I entered the store which is a large store with candy and right on the far end I saw a fridge with drinks but just then I started fading and I thought I would pass out. So I sat on the floor in the store and I was shaking uncontrollably. A customer asked if I was ok and I asked them to call a shop attendant to come to me. This young girl came over and I asked for a glass of water. She told me she does not have water and I said please give me some water from the fridge I would pay for it (Shabbat was over by this time and my non-Jewish friend had given me some money for a drink). She told me to come to the front of the store and pay for it. Apparently she missed the fact that I was sitting on the floor of a big store and shaking. I told her that I feel faint and could not walk there and asked her to help me and she responded "I am too busy". I continued to sit and shake and another person came over and I said please find someone who works here and another attendant came over. I offered her $5 and said please can you buy me a drink I am feeling really bad. She looked at me and said “I am on my lunch break " and walked off. I sat on the floor for over 20 min before I managed to get a drink and head home. And yes I did email this national chain store and my subject line was "Where is the compassion?”
For a business whose whole idea is about the customer experience they clearly failed but what if I had more than dehydration? People die from dehydration. You always hear stories like this about people in NY BUT seriously what kind of society are we building? (I have not named the store as I am waiting to see if they proactively deal with this - I have been in contact with their customer service who agreed to address this situation)
I was totally exhausted but Sunday I was up by 6am as I was attending the Jewish Women Entrepreneur conference in NJ. It was an interesting conference and many of the women who attend are ultra-orthodox. There is a desperate need for these women to have support groups and learning opportunities in an all women environment. Many of these women are the prime bread winners and over the years I have taught classes in Williamsburg for this audience. At lunch I was sitting at a table and we all introduced ourselves. The women next to me looked at me and said "if you want to get business from this audience you should dress like them" She then proceeded to lecture me that you can't sell to an audience if you don't understand them. Talk about wearing all the religious attire and breaking the commandment not to embarrass someone - the Torah actually equates publicly embarrassing someone with murder. I admit I was not wearing a sheitel but nor were many the woman at the conference, there were over 200 women and certainly not all with head coverings. I was certainly wearing a modest dress. This woman without knowing anything about me, my extensive reach in the Jewish business world or outreach continued to educate me in the type of clients I could reach. G-d however saved me. She mentioned 3 organizations that I could target (if I looked the part I guess) and all 3 are in my inner circle. I explained that Project Inspire was in fact my client that I am currently working with and the Jewish Women's Renaissance Project that I was the Manhattan City leader and have lead groups to Israel for this organization and that yes I was familiar with Aish HaTorah from the time we ran the Aish branch in Australia. As I was talking her mouth just hung open and she went white. Twice in one weekend I had to question people's behavior. Where is compassion and basic respect for others?
These 2 stories are both entertaining and I have shared them a few times and had many interesting discussions. As moms we need to stop in our tracks and ask ourselves what kind of people will our kids become? What values will they have? Will they be sensitive and compassionate? Paying for expensive education does not guarantee that our kids come out as sensitive and caring people?
One thing I try to do with my kids and I do for myself each night is I lie in bed and think of 5 good things I did in a day and 3 things that need work. It's always harder to think of the good things but I hope this exercise helps me be a better person.