DAY SIXTY-ONE (WEDNESDAY MAY 18): ASK STUDENT TO PAY FOR OVERDUE LESSONS
This is always tricky. Somehow we all are missing a few synapses when it comes to where and how much we have spent. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard students at yoga studios arguing with the poor desk staff about how their class cards can’t possibly be used up, expired, whatever. I don’t think they’re trying to cheat; they just can’t believe it’s time to pay another bill! (I’ve experienced this myself with credit cards, doctor’s bills, and just about any other form of semi-regular payment.)
As a “professional,” I should not let students get behind on payments, as the further back we go in time, the fuzzier memories get and the higher the bill goes. Still, I’m busy and do let things slide. Plus I hate asking for money, even when I’ve earned it.
So here I find myself again, having the awkward conversation, which takes the predictable route. I’ve gone through my datebook for past sessions and done my tally. The student is surprised, if not incredulous, and wants to go home and do his own tally. So we agree to reconnoiter at our next session. (Rejection/Acceptance pending. Post script: We come up with the same number, and I get paid a week later.)
DAY SIXTY-TWO (THURSDAY MAY 19): UNSOLICITED OFFERING: VINTAGE BOOK ON PARIS
I volunteer at a charity bookstore every Thursday afternoon. There’s not a lot to do, mostly sorting, pricing, culling, and alphabetizing books. It’s a great place for a bibliophile to hang out, and since the books are reasonably priced, I rarely get out the door without something under my arm come closing time.
There’s a table in the main room where we put special books we think will catch readers’ eyes. One day I spot an ancient hardcover called Paris, Mon Coeur (Paris, My Heart) full of vintage photos and prints of my favorite city (almost moved there after grad school, but doubted I could pull off a career as a writer in my second tongue). I’m gauging whether to spring for it when the art-book expert sweetly offers to give it to me for nothing. Wish everything in life came toward me with so little struggle!
DAY SIXTY-THREE: ASK NURSERY FOR EXTRA PANSY POT TO HELP WITH MY FACE-FALL RECUPERATION
After a week of people staring at my disturbingly bruised face and asking if I’m okay, I realize that maybe I should ask for some concrete expressions of sympathy.
So I’m over at the local nursery buying some potted plants to brighten up the house. When I get to check out, I recognize the man helping me as the owner. I’ve learned from previous rejections that if you want something unusual, it’s best to ask someone with the authority to give it. I figure this is a long shot, but a small one, so I’m emboldened to ask,
“Could you throw in an extra pot of pansies to help me recuperate?”
He looks a bit baffled. Apparently he hadn’t given me a close look. “What’s wrong?” he asks.
“My face,” I say, pointing the migrating bruise but offering no further details.
“Oh, sure,” he says, now looking really concerned. “Of course.”
(Rejections: 0, Acceptances: 1)
Postscript: I go back a few weeks later for something else and spot him moving down the aisles between the plants. I wave and remind him of his generous contribution to my healing, and point to my now-normal face. He draws a blank. All in a (retail) day’s work.
DAY SIXTY-FOUR (SATURDAY 20 MAY):
PART ONE: RECEIVE ALVAR AALTON CHAIRS FROM PRIVATE CLIENT
More free things flowing my way. I’m over at a client’s house. As we’re doing yoga, I notice that his pair of dilapidated Alvar Aalto chairs are still sitting in the corner of his studio. Last time I was there, I had asked if they were genuine, and he said yes, but that he had put them up in his boys’ treehouse, and the kids had later moved them out to rot in the rain.
So this time I just, out of pure curiosity (no ulterior motive here, no planned rejection), asked what he was going to do with them.
“Throw them out!”
“Yes. If they were in good condition, they’d be worth $1000, but this way I’d be lucky to get $200.”
The wheels are turning in my brain. Aalto was one of my early design heroes. I’d take an Aalto chair if I had to assemble it from scratch. I’m also not above putting something on e-bay if finances are tight. So I can’t lose either way here.
“Well, if you’re really going to toss them, I’ll take them home!”
“Fine!” he says, and at the end of the lesson we load them into my Jeep.
Back at home, of course I have to research what they are actually worth. Called the Aalto chair 66, produced by the still thriving Artek, these little gems date to 1966. However, because they are made of plywood and still easily produced, their value has to be weighed according to whether buyers value beat-up authenticity over the customized new models (you can now choose type of wood, finish, etc.). I decide to hang onto them.
Coincidentally, the same week I meet someone while working at the bookstore who refinishes old furniture. I take his card just in case, but my guess is these babies are going to remain as is, both because I’m always short on funds and because the cost of refinishing would probably equal the cost of buying new ones.
Also coincidentally, I’m passing by the Whitney Museum on my morning walk, when I catch site of 30 identical Aalto chairs lined up in a shop front across the street. Artek has opened a showroom strategically positioned across from Lower Manhattan’s newest art mecca. What goes around, comes around!
(Rejections: 0, Acceptances: 1)
PART TWO: ASK FOR SOMETHING FREE AT THE FIRST ANNUAL EAST HAMPTON STREET FAIR
Okay, brain fog. I did ask one of the vendors for a free something or other, but it’s completely slipped my mind what it was, and in any case they said no. Need to polish my solicitation style, as I’m still having a hard time getting something for nothing out of strangers without some plausible storyline leading up to my request.
(Rejections: 1; Acceptances: 0; Failing Memory: 1)
DAY SIXTY-FIVE (SUNDAY 21 MAY)
Take the day off in honor of double up on Saturday. Even God rested on Sunday.
DAY SIXTY-SIX (MONDAY 22 MAY):
PART ONE: ASK DENTIST TO FAST TRACK ME (THOUGH I AM 15 MINS LATE) SO CAN BE ON TIME TO MY MASSAGE
I know a few things when I set up this dentist appointment:
My dentist’s office, unlike most doctors’ offices, runs like the clockwork. 3:00 means 3:00 seated in the chair.
I also know that the Long Island Rail Road, like most public transportation, does not even know what a clock is, much less how to run according to schedule.
I also know that even if the LIRR should arrive in Penn Station on time (2:50pm), there’s no way I’m going to be in the dentist’s chair in Rockefeller Center by 3:00pm.
I also know that my massage therapist runs a tight schedule, and I’m due down at his place in Chelsea at 4:15.
So, you see, I have set things up such that I will disappoint and/or inconvenience everyone, and possibly curtail the time I get on the massage table, which I desperately need for a troublesome shoulder injury.
But I also know that even though my dentist allots one hour per visit, standard teeth cleaning only takes 45 minutes. So assuming I’m there by 3:10 or even 3:15, it’s tight but I might actually make it downtown by 4:15.
I do arrive at 3:15, but then I wait, and wait. The teeth cleaning is timely, but the doctor is busy completing some intricate work on the guy in the next room. Finally I get up and walk out to reception, declaring that I have a 4:15 appointment downtown and need to leave. Presto! The dentist whizzes in, gives me a once-over, and I’m on my way. I arrive downtown just a few minutes behind schedule, but my massage therapist fortunately has a little overflow time, so we get in a good session.
(Rejections: 0, Acceptances: 1)
PART TWO: ASK 20TH ST POLICE STATION FOR A RIDE HOME
Out on the street in my familiar post-massage languor, I’m annoyed to find it’s raining. I’m carrying my wheelie bag and a duffle from East Hampton, so maneuvering along without getting soaked is difficult.
I spot a police station across the street. I’m greeted by a sweet, baby-faced young cop who politely asks,
“What can I do for you, m’am?”
“I’d like a ride home.”
Clearly thrown a bit off his game, he replies, “Um, m’am, we don’t do that.”
I’m ready. “Well, you see, it’s slippery out there and I’m carrying all this stuff. I took a bad fall recently [I point at my face bruise, which is holding up quite well, thank you] and don’t want to fall again.”
Pauses are key to Rejection Therapy. You have to give your interlocutor time to come up with some plausible solution.
“Well, let’s see,” he ponders. “You could take a taxi. . . .”
“Yes, but it’s raining and rush hour, and there just aren’t any taxis.” This is actually true, from the quick glance around I did while crossing the street.
“Are you sure you can’t help me?” I’m starting feel bad about this, as the guy looks like he’d truly like to guide me to his patrol car and chauffeur me home. But I can also see his superiors hovering behind him, and I size up the situation as hopeless.
“No, I’m sorry,” he says regretfully, and we both part ways feeling a little deflated.
(Rejections: 1, Acceptances: 0)