On Monday, May 25th, we reopened the store after what were arguably the strangest months of our lives.
That day, a gentleman came in from nowhere with a bouquet of tulips like the one illustrating my first blog entry. He rode his bike to the store just to bring me flowers and to tell me that my words made a difference in his life. His visit literally lasted a minute but it changed everything for me. He could have just written a comment online but he chose to come in person. I don’t know what touched me the most of the flowers he chose or of the time he took to connect.
While in confinement, I had signed up for a phone course on how to optimize my website. You know, get more traffic, increase sales in order to survive during the lockdown.
The day of the phone appointment came on Tuesday. The man on the line was very nice and helpful. He sounded passionate about websites and all things internet. He gave me many useful tips that I will most likely use one of these days. It takes work, he told me, work and dedication. He didn’t mention it, but I know that it also takes money. The truth is that the more I learn about referencing and social media, the less I am interested in them. It’s a losing battle against time, algorithms, machines, huge corporations.
During the hour that we spent talking, I felt like an unmotivated student. I watched minutes slowly go by with more seconds in them than usual. I had not done my homework, I was unprepared and there were unforgivable gaps in my social networking knowledge. He was reassuring and told me of remedial courses, webinars and Q&As things for people like me, you know the kind: daydreaming dropouts.
The helpful man mentioned this blog.
He congratulated me on writing it but remarked on its apparent dearth of keywords. He was adamant that I should cleverly mention jumpsuits, fashion, clothes (there you are: jumpsuits, fashion, clothes. Done).
That would coax people, trap them in the beautiful world of État de Style and get them to part with hard-earned money in order to belong to it.
He gave me stats and figures on how many words should be used in the blog and on the percentage of them that should be keywords. Enough to fool the machines but not too many as to awake their suspicion.
I thanked him at length at 10:59 AM, just one minute before our scheduled parting time.
I was exhausted and discouraged by the vast expanse of my ignorance.
So, I tried. I really tried. I am no dunce and I take pride in learning. This week, I wrote a few keyworded paragraphs about the store and the things in it. I deleted them with glee this morning and here I am.
What I am trying to say is that I care. Whether on line or on our Montreal street, the store is not just a place where products are sold, it is a space where we hope to connect with you. Behind every single item on the shelves, there is a person we know, a choice we made, a book we think you might enjoy, a fragrance or a garment that might make someone happy.
Three days ago, was #blackouttuesday on Instagram. To me, all those black squares popping up everywhere reflected the dark silhouettes of policemen in riot gear that I was watching on TV. The connection was lost for a day and I found it sad.
This is not a time for keywords or watchwords, it is a time to share, learn, connect and change together. It is a time to understand, empathize and fight for a better normal than before.
We spend so much energy to be noticed, sending messages in bottles, balloons in the air, smoke signals. Most of us remain unseen and unheard unless we play by the rules.
There are so many of us wanting to connect with each other. So many of us and so many ways to do it, yet it seems that human voices are best heard the old-fashioned way: in unison, in the streets of our cities.