No good deed goes unpunished
June 20, 2015 — We recently returned from a trip to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Before we left, a man who works for me asked me to purchase soap made in England. Since I would be “over there” he hoped I could find this rare and highly desired product for his wife. I agreed even though I wasn’t setting foot in the United Kingdom, and I’m not sure he knew that England is not in Europe. Sceptered isle and all that.
This is one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation. If you say “No” you are a bad boss and if you say “Yes” you are also committing your partner’s precious overseas time. A no-win situation.
Several days later my employee — who lives in Louisville and manages our eastern sales territory — forwarded me an email from his wife with specifics. She did not want soap, but listed four different kinds of perfume from a store called Lush.
In Amsterdam, we had an afternoon of free time apart from the planned tour. I looked on my tablet for the store and found there were two, miles away in the suburbs. Another was a 15-minute cab ride away. I learned this brand was not sold in department stores, which deflated Plan B. We visit local department stores in a new country. Lush items are only available at Lush stores. I had not heard of Lush products, but I was game.
Should we spend our one free afternoon in Amsterdam chasing perfume for someone we’ve never met? Or would we visit the heralded Van Gogh Museum and see the translucent, golden painting of sunflowers? The sunflowers won out.
When we returned to the Hotel Americano after dinner, I went to the Business Center to order the products on-line and have them sent home. Of course, my employee wouldn’t know the difference. This would avoid the Value-added Tax, and mean I didn’t have to lug fragile liquids in my suitcase for two weeks.
Here’s the problem. I don’t speak or read Dutch. Everyone else at the business center spoke French or Chinese and the keyboard was completely different. With hook or crook, I figured out the program, but was afraid I was having a Peugeot sedan sent to South Africa. I stopped, and decided to punt.
On to Brussels we committed to finding a store. The Google told us there were multiple Lush stores in the metro area. After a walking tour of the City Center, we chose to stroll down a pedestrian “straat” and walked directly past the tiny Lush store. Problem was I didn’t have my tablet with me with the email on it describing the desired items.
Easy fix. We were returning to the area the next day. After a wonderful day at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts and the Rene Magritte Museum, we walked back to the Lush store. The store was tiny and overcrowded with tourists. I found a helpful clerk and handed her my list. The clerk’s name was Emma.
The helpful clerk at Lush in Brussels, Belgium.
Emma looked at the crumpled paper in my fist and said in perfect English, “I don’t understand.” She added, “Most of these products were discontinued years ago. We have the last one, but it’s for men.”
Emma took my list and went for a manager. The manager explained that sometimes products in Europe have different names than products in the USA and that inventories can be different.
So here we are. I might as well buy something, something for myself that didn’t offend my asthma. I recently recovered from two weeks of a nasty bronchitis and the overwhelming fragrance in the store hung heavy in the air.
I told Emma that I would take the man’s product on the list. I wanted to get something for my employees’ wife, having come all this way. She suggested something nice and had me sniff a few different products. One that she gave me to try was called Vanilliary. It was so rich and luscious (pardon the pun) I felt I was wallowing in those expensive Madagascarian vanilla beans used for premium ice cream. Emma said there was a special version without alcohol for people who were bothered by certain fragrances.
I was sold and bought a tin of the solid parfum as the French say for myself, as well as the two products for my employee. That was an adventure, and we left the store feeling good that we had at least accomplished some of what my employee wanted for his wife.
The trip continued, and as we arrived in Paris we spied another Lush store on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Our mission accomplished, I felt a little smug that I actually found the place.
In Paris, I used the Vanilliary solid parfum every day, and realized I loved this scent and wanted more. On our last day in Europe, I searched The Google for ordering instructions to ship more Vanilliary to my home.
But, wait! There are Lush USA stores. Seriously! Wow! 800 Lush stores in 51 countries. Where have I been?
There are Lush stores in almost every state, including two in Indiana and two in Kentucky.
Louisville has a store twenty minutes from my employees’ home in the city’s primary mall.
At least I got a good story out of it, and smell heavenly.