Client stories are my favorite, but one that always comes to mind is a client I did not want. We had our initial meet and greet, it went very well, I was going back days later to set up appointments for the times we would help her purge and pack for her upcoming move from her home of 55 years. However, when I went back, the whole family was there and after asking them to leave the room, she informed me that all I wanted to do was to get rid of her stuff. She said that she wouldn’t be needing our services at all, “thank you very much.” At this point, her family tried to stop her by explaining that physically, she needed our help and expertise. She turned on them and said “no, I do not.” I could not get out of there fast enough.
Before I walked out, at the door, I told her two things. First, our company is named Design Your Life for a reason, at the end of the day we know that we walk away, and you still live there. If you want to keep everything you own and move it into an apartment, we can do that. “Your stuff will take up every inch of your apartment, you may not be able to move around, and you may not be able to find things but that is your choice. Secondly, if you find that you run out of time, we’d love to pitch in to help finish up.” She told me she would call on Monday and let me know. I asked my Sunday school group to pray for me. They asked if they were to pray for the job or to not get the job, I replied, that I was not sure.
On Monday, she called, her family had convinced her we would be an asset. After 55 years in a home, there is a lot of stuff and she was a force to be reckoned with. Although, she was in her mid-90s she could tell us where each one of her million shopping bags came from, what she had bought and who she gave it to. She was very particular about lots of things, some logical, some not. She yelled at one of the crew members for ‘stuffing’ plastic dry-cleaner bags into a bag rather than folding them precisely. She took almost an hour to go through her measuring cups and decide which ones to keep, some were right handed, some were left handed, some were metric, some were by the ounce. (she kept 5 or 6 out of the 28 that she had)
I went out of town during part of this job and the head organizer who taken over for me told me that she had, had a tough time talking her out of keeping all 42 cheese graters. The client explained, very impatiently, that each one was a different size and for a different variety of cheese. I understood where she was coming from, its hard to say goodbye to things that hold many memories and for her that was her million shopping bags, 28 measuring cups, and 42 cheese graters. It’s something different for everyone.
This job took place over several weeks, because of her age and health. She couldn’t work more than our four-hour minimum each day. By the end of the project, each day as we would leave, she would hug me, and say through her sobs, “we could not have done this without you.”
Now, I had to be coerced into sharing this particular story because to me it’s somewhat bragging about our ability to turn around a tough situation. I want you to know that we do have an ability to turn around a tough situation, but my favorite part of this story is the client herself. She was tough, and she was staring into a future that she did not want. But her heart was huge. Her life had been filled with joy and she shared that with us in the most unusual ways, in one of the worst times of her life. Although, she has since passed, to me, she remains one of my best clients and a true friend.