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The rantings and ramblings of Kimberly Allison

Monday, September 24, 2012

Karma Sends a Party Invitation

I am a firm believer of Karma.  I know it exists, because I see it in action every Saturday.  My beautiful "adopted" sister Patty is my best example.  Every show, I see her put together a special item or two that she has made. At random, she will give it to a passer-by.  Perhaps its a small purse to a little girl.  A wheelchair bag for a disabled person.  Or, my very favorite, a patriotic bag to a young man celebrating his recent graduation into the USMC.  She NEVER expects anything in return.  She once told me that it is because she made a conscious decision to be a blessing to this earth.

And I agree.  I once risked being fired at a hair salon because I gave away a haircut to a customer the day before her husband's funeral.  My coworkers chastised me, saying that if they wanted, they could report me and have me dismissed.  Because, after all, I had "stolen" from the salon by not charging for that quick trim.  I was adamant.  Here was a woman, in grief, from her husband's unexpected death.  It only took a few minutes of my time to do a kindness.  Where was the harm?  I expected nothing, except for maybe a few points in my Karma score.

Last month, I jumped at the chance to make one more deposit in my Karma Account.  On a sweltering day at the Pasadena Swap Meet, a woman and her daughter came into our booth.  They were admiring my necktie halter vests when the woman began to tear up, telling us that she couldn't help but think of her beloved father's ties hanging in his closet, after his recent passing.  I knew what I had to do.  I got up and chose a pretty, delicate pendant and enclosed it in her hand.  I told her that I felt she needed something positive to hold, and this was my gift to her.  And I meant it.  I wasn't looking for a sale.  Her grief was genuine and I had a chance to reach out and give a kindness.  I would have done this for anyone.  It's simply the right thing to do.

That woman was Nancee Borgnine.  And her father was Ernest Borgnine.

I will be the first to confess, I am not a person to be starstruck.  My average work day spans 10 to 12 hours and I don't watch a lot of TV.  Or maybe it was the 100+ degree heat. But I didn't think of the celebrity status.  All I understood is, here was a woman who loved her father very much, and now he was gone.

And, let's give Nancee her due.  She could tell this was an honest gift, from one daughter to another.  She is a very astute lady and she saw that there was no ulterior motive. I simply wanted to do something good.  Something right.   I just wanted to "be a blessing", as Patty says.   And at that moment, Karma decided my account was full enough and that Nancee could make a withdrawal in my name.  In the form of a party invitation to participate in an Emmy's swag party.

We had a mere 5 weeks to prepare.  Five weeks to order a new camera, find something to wear and sew my ass off.   And let me tell you, those 5 weeks went faster than a bowl of M&Ms in a room of premenstrual women.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I knew we needed to absorb and enjoy every moment.   My husband, my son Nicholas and I, in our bright green security bracelets, got to smile and speak to celebrities that we otherwise would have never met.  And I got the phenomenal thrill of watching celebrities giggle and laugh at my creations. It was fabulous.

So, never be afraid to be a blessing.  Or do a kindness.  Because Karma may decide to send you a party invitation.

By FAR my favorite photo.  The grandsons of Ernest Borgnine play with their new Zombie Hand Puppets.  The face of the little guy in the back says it all.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Take a Tip From Me.

These days, you can't get a cup of coffee without seeing the dreaded "jar".   A blatant demand for free money at any given establishment.  Ok.  I admit it.  I know times are tough.  But something bugs me about the high school kid behind the counter, expecting a tip for the service of pouring me a dollar's worth of coffee.

You see, I know all about tips, having worked in a "tipping" establishment for nearly 20 years.  Most everyone knows I spent many years behind a chair, as a hairstylist, in both Oregon and California.  And one of the first lessons we learned as soon as our student scissors hit the floor at beauty school is that we were expected to *earn* our tips.  It wasn't enough just to give a quick haircut and then expect a gratuity.  We were expected to be prompt for an appointment.  Make the customer comfortable.  Bring coffee.  Magazines.  Was my customer under a dryer for a period of time?  Ok, I got the footstool to prop up their feet.  Basically, our service was expected to be spot-on, for that 15%.   And on a $10 service, YOU do the math!

So, these days I can't help but to feel a bit hounded.  Ok.  Even a bit peeved, that people are beginning to feel that any kind of work at all deserves an additional contribution from our pocketbooks.  Punching a few keys on a cash register and carrying my order from counter to counter doesn't warrant a tip for "services rendered".   I would rather hand that honor to the poor waitress that sits me in a comfortable seat, hands me a menu, gives specials and suggestions, and generally "gives great service". 

But, in the spirit of giving... allow me to give those teenage coffee jockeys a few tips... on life.

*   NOTHING will ever prepare you for parenthood.  Or childbirth.  Or marriage.

*  If someone says "Oh don't worry about it", maybe you should.

*  All men find farting funny.  All.

*  If someone gives you a heart-felt compliment, don't argue.  Just say "thank you."

*  If a dog offers you their tummy, rub it.  You will both benefit.

*  Don't use swear words all the time.  Save them for special occasions.  Then let them proudly fly. 

*  It's better to have fewer friends, but of the highest possible quality.

*  When in doubt, flush twice.

*  Always drive like there is a cop in your rear-view mirror.

*  Don't be afraid of getting older.  That is when the fun starts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You Gotta Have Heart.

As we pulled up in our packed van, I could see all the warning signs.  People milling about, a sense of tension.  A few feet tapped nervously, with arms closely crossed, signalling the beginnings of battle.  I took a deep breath and tried to find my "happy place" for a fleeting moment.  It was time to enter the fray.  Earth Fair 2012.   May God have mercy on our souls.

Don't get me wrong.  We adore this venue.  It's not often that we can stand on our achievements in our media;  allowing people to see right away that we are Green.  I don't have to worry about being compared with mass produced stuffed animals, manufactured in Asia, by children in sweat shop conditions. 

But setting up for this show.... getting our spaces.... dear lord.

We swarmed the poor volunteer like chickens at feeding time.  Some of us had pre-approved needs that had gone through the proper channels.  Some people preferred the Conquistador method.  (This consists of slamming down an imaginary flag, claiming territory in a loud voice and then participating in the slaughter of any people that come near).  Then, the cries of the dreaded d'Enfant Terrible.  Otherwise known as the "full grown adult indulging in a childish tantrum."

I watched in horror and listened in awe.  Several individuals must have been wearing Huggies diapers for the tantrum they threw.  I had front row seats as the volunteer was verbally assaulted, called names and generally treated like a used diaper wipe.


Have you ever volunteered?  I mean, REALLY volunteered?  I am not talking about raising your hand and offering to bring napkins and teabags to the next meeting.  I mean, the "roll up your sleeves, get down and dirty" with no pay or credit at the end of the day, save the feeling that comes with making a difference in the world.

I have.  In my 46 years I have done work that I hope will earn me a few extra points when I approach the Pearly Gates.  I washed plates, served food and was a general kitchen slave for an exhausting 10 hours a day, for a full week at Camp Easter Seals when I was in high school.  I have donated my time to talk about my career choices for students.  I have shown women with cancer how to tie head wraps and re-draw eyebrows thinned by chemo.  Back in my "young and cute" days, I even dressed as a barroom floozy in a ruffled skirt and feathered headpiece and "arrested" people for my community Jail and Bail for the Cancer Society.  Even now, I am dusting off my Renaissance costume in order to show 7th grade students how wool was picked, carded and spun in the 16th century.

Obviously, volunteer work means just that.  You volunteer to NOT get paid.  But it goes beyond that.  You also volunteer to put yourself last and your cause first.  You accept that you are not going to be singled out and have a ticker tape parade in your honor.   You are even willing to put yourself in line of fire.  It takes an amazing person to do that.

So, here is the challenge:  get involved.  Teach a class.  Hold a sign.  Pick up trash.  Hold a hand.  Do something.  Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  You won't regret it.

So, this post is for you Melissa.  You are a class act.