An Open Letter to Tiffany & Co.
December 9, 2018
Tiffany & Co.
1414 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
To Whom It May Concern:
Yesterday my husband, who was experiencing symptoms of the common cold, made the unfortunate mistake of taking a nighttime cold medicine during the day. This rendered him unable to function and left me with the prospect of a long day with five spirited children who are seemingly out to rob their mother of her sanity, particularly this time of the year (although they are generally an equal opportunity bunch...any time of the year is a good time of year to unite only long enough to drive their dear old mom to the brink). This is important for you to know, as this was the fear which motivated me to spontaneously load up my elementary-aged clan into our ten-seat Ford Transit Van, along with all the frozen Uncrustables and Sunchips we could find to pack for lunch and head from Lancaster, Pennsylvania into the big city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. I was recently reminded the old Wanamaker building (now Macy's) still had their famous (and free!) Christmas light show and in the age of Amazon, I wanted my children to experience what soon may be a historical delight within an actual historical department store at Christmas. This is where we were traipsing toward as we walked towards Walnut from our parking space near 15th Street.
As we came upon Tiffany's, I verbally lassoed my excited offspring to stop and reverse course back to the van, explaining that for nearly half a year I had stashed a beautiful, broken bracelet (gifted to me on my fortieth from a treasured friend) in the glove compartment of our van, in hopes that I'd someday have the time to drive to Tiffany's where it was from to have it repaired. Naturally, they complained for the entire three minutes it took to retrace our steps to our commercial-grade vehicle to retrieve the hidden treasure inside.
As we walked back toward your establishment, I felt a rising panic. Who, in their right mind, would take five children, dressed in anything but their Sunday best into one of the most iconic stores in the world? Visions of Holly Golightly contrasted with the reflection of a middle aged mother (with five curious children) as we stood outside the entrance. This was a huge risk on my part, but I was desperate to have those heavy beads of Tiffany silver gracing my wrist again. "Children. I am serious when I say there are armed guards on every floor, cameras at every turn. I want all ten of of your hands in your pockets and the ONLY noise you may make is the sound of breathing." Sure, it may have a little over the top, but I wasn't going to take any chances.
We walked in and I felt myself bracing for instant judgment as we rounded the crystal corner. Serenity and sophistication greeted us, two very unfamiliar sensations in our daily lives. The impeccably dressed gentlemen smiled as I firmly directed the children to line up along the wall, apologetically introducing myself as one who needed a gifted piece of jewelry repaired (as if they were suspecting I was waltzing in to browse their selection of jeweled necklaces). He kindly smiled and without the slightest trace of judgement, directed me to Customer Service on the second floor.
Up to floor two the six of us climbed, in our clunky boots and half-clean winter coats. Again, I directed the children to sit along the wall when Ms. Bisram, a lovely lady with a warm smile greeted not just myself, but all of us. She seemed to instantly sense my unease and stated "Just let them be who they are. Relax. You're welcome here" with such sincerity that I had no choice but to actually believe her. She took my bracelet--and my dignity--and handled both with care, leaving me feel a little less harried middle-aged mom and a little more Holly Golightly. We left with her kind holiday greetings following us back down the stairs to the first floor where the gentleman who first greeted us pulled me aside and said, "Ma'm, you're doing a wonderful job with your children". I nearly hugged him.
Tiffany & Co., I may only have one piece of your jewelry to my name, but you have given me the gift of perspective that is worth it's weight in all of your silver and gold. It is this: Every human wants to be felt worthy of where they walk and toward whom they walk. Whether it's a world-famous jewelry store, a house of worship or the home of a stranger or the estranged...we long to feel worthy of the footsteps we feel fearful to take.
Thank you to the man and woman who carry the name of your brand in my mind, for their treatment of a customer who, at first (and fifth) glance held no promise of delivering more than a trip to the second floor on the bottom line of their daily profits. It was an experience my children and I will not soon forget. To those who tread toward our lives with a wary step, may we remember the grace to welcome them to be who they are, the invitation to relax and the offer of a sincere welcome as though they belong, for indeed, they do. For all that you sell, our first thought of Tiffany & Co. is all that we felt. May we all consider to learn from this example.