A Friendship Forged By Fire.
Could You Do THIS?
Hey all.. Happy Monday.
I’m going to start by saying something very important and I hope you will oblige me:
I need you to read this piece with an open head and heart. Read it for understanding, with compassion and a spirit of forgiveness.
Now.. the rest of the story.
Those of you who follow me know that few weeks ago, my daughter Casey and I had an unfortunate incident at a store, Carolina Girls, on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, where we own a home. While the incident itself was gut-wrenching, the aftermath was worse.
I was tired.
Until I got this response on the last post I wrote.
That took guts. Lots and lots of guts, given the events of the prior week.
So, after a couple of email exchanges, we arranged for me to fly to South Carolina and meet with Stephanie Davis.
If I am to be completely honest, I will admit I thought about backing out; in the few weeks that went by between the time we agreed to meet and the actual face-to-face, I started getting cold feet.
“Why don’t we just let it go?” “What’s really going to come of this?” “What if it is a colossal waste of time?”
But I had already agreed. I tucked away those questions and doubts and walked into, Muddy Waters, ironically the name of the coffee shop where we chose to chat, far from the epicenter of Kiawah Island.
Now, please, stay with me here. I fully understand that some of you are going to think I am naive. I can assure you I am not.
When I walked into Muddy Waters, I spotted Stephanie in the corner right away. She rose to greet me and we hugged.
We hugged as two mothers and two women, on opposite sides of an episode that left both of us changed.
The woman I spent the following hour and a half with was not the same person sending curt, impersonal emails or leaving comments in public places.
She just wasn’t. I knew that in my heart.
The very first thing Stephanie asked was, “How’s Casey?”, again underscoring my initial read on her.
We spoke about the indelible mark that, regardless of apologies and efforts after the fact, Casey’s will always have from this, just as I remember the first time I was called n*gger, 44 years ago.
Stehanie then confirmed what I had long suspected; someone else (a PR agency) has been handling of this brewing Carolina Girls controversy and not doing a very good job of it.
She also told me what I already knew was the case; the last comment on my website was written by her. A real person, a mother who was greatly pained that this was happening.
Stephanie also explained some of the realities of running a small business in a tourist town which I will keep between she and I.
Now, I need to fast forward for a moment. When I got back to New York, I met Casey in the city for lunch. I gave her the card and gift that Stephanie wanted me to pass along to her.
So why was this young woman crying?
Because she understood the impact of her actions; how walking out of Carolina Girls that day, choosing to spend her money elsewhere and then talking about it later, could make a difference.
You see, after the unfortunate incident, Stephanie Davis stepped up; way up, instituting 3 major changes in her organization.
- Carolina Girls installed a high level video monitoring system in the Kiawah Island store. Any incident can be monitored and involved parties can easily be pinpointed.
- They instituted sensitivity training for their staff that will be ongoing.
- Stephanie made a donation to a program for some youth in the Charleston area. Her donation will help provide snacks and other things for an after school program for children until their parents get off work. This was particularly meaningful to me because Stephanie said she did that based on Casey’s suggestion in one of the interviews she gave.
You see what happened there? Stephanie Davis listened to Casey and truly heard what was in her heart. She heard her pain and took action, not just paying lip service, to make a difference
Why does this matter? Why does any of this matter? Why should it matter to you?
Because in many respects, it feels like this is where we are as a country. We are so busy shouting at one another that we can’t be quiet enough to listen to the other side. Be still enough to comprehend. Love enough to be vulnerable.
That has to change.
At the end of our meeting, Stephanie reached for a small key on a chain she wore around her neck.
The giving key is a piece of jewelry worn as a reminder to take care of those around us. According to Stephanie, we are supposed to wear it and pass it along to someone who inspires us. Someone who give us strength and hope.
So you can understand why I cried when she gave me hers.
At the end of the day, true strength lies in vulnerability.
Call me naive if you wish, it matters not to me, but I know when Stephanie and I said goodbye, we had a new understanding and respect for one another because we were both willing to listen, not so we could reply but so we could understand.
From the very deepest place in my heart, believe it or not I am thankful. Thankful for the storm that Casey and I endured and grateful for Stehanie Davis’ who worked to reach a place of understanding.
It hurt like hell. But we are better for it.
I believe that.
I know that.