Last night, my Tina and I scarfed down our dinner quickly so that we could race out the door to enjoy a sweet treat for dessert. One thing we love about living in a small town is abundance of cool little family businesses the dot the roadways, often in the middle of nowhere.
Such a place is Ilsley’s Ice Cream in our home town of Weare NH.
Although we’ve lived here for more than a year, it was our first trip.
According to their Facebook page, they close at 8pm.
As we pulled up (at 7:40pm), realized the parking lot was full, and saw a line of cars parked along the side of the road, we thought two things:
There is no way they can serve us all by 8pm.
Is this location of the Woodstock 50th Anniversary concert?
As it turns out, there was no cause for concern.
Although the line stretched past the picnic table and the very cool fiberglass love seat (shaped like a cow), they dutifully promised to feed us all.
As even more people arrived to extend the line behind us, I heard someone ponder:
“It’s almost 8:00, is anyone holding the spoon yet?
My first thought: “is this ice cream so amazing that people bring their own spoons?”
As if on cue, a smiling woman emerged from the side of the ice-cream stand bearing a giant wooden spoon.
Laughter and hand-claps rang out as she delivered it to the person at the end of the line, saying: “You are now officially the last person customer of the evening, and it is your job to tell anyone who shows up that they will have to come back another time.”
As she handed over the giant spoon, I was expecting a ceremonial tap on the shoulders and:
“As the Queen of Ilsley’s, I hereby dub thee...Prince of Pistachio!”
As simple and fun as this nightly ritual may seem, it’s actually pretty powerful.
It sets a boundary.
It is a line in the sand, drawn with a giant wooden spoon.
There’s no arguing with it.
You can’t miss it.
Every day, we see people trying to cheat systems, to sneak themselves in with excuses like “I only have one item”, “this will just take a second” or some other feeble reason...as they expect the hard-working person on the other end of the transaction to understand and allow the transgression.
As the owner of a DJ company for nearly 26 years, I still see it all too often.
At midnight (or whatever time the event ends), there is often someone who (drunkenly) yells “One more song! One more song!”...and then gets upset when I explain that I cannot.
It’s gotten to the point where I actually inform my clients at our very first meeting (like a pre-emptive wooden spoon) that “the end time is the END time”.
They always understand, and I always share the story of one night, years ago, when one drunken guest began stomping his feet and yelling “DJ sucks! DJ sucks!” after I refused to play ‘one more song’.
Who was the wooden spoon holder that night?
The Mother of the Groom, who yelled: “Derek! Knock it off!”...and gave him the death-stare of all death-stares as she smiled at me.
Boundaries are important.
They allow to to inform the world about who we are, how we operate and how to respect the rules we have set for doing business (or being in relationships) with us.
They also signify that we respect ourselves.
What are the wooden spoons in your life?
Have you set up the rules so that people understand how you operate?
Or do you find yourself with aching arms, scooping ice cream late into the darkness of night because you never created boundaries which you can enforce?
Will some people complain? Yes.
Will they stop doing business with you? Maybe.
Will they learn, though? If they want to continue with you, yes.
As you go through your week, please notice opportunities to bust out your wooden spoon, just to clarify rules and set boundaries.
It might just earn you a double-scoop of peace and respect.
Integrity Health is a franchise company residing in New Hampshire. We specialize in health coaching centers combining fitness with weight loss to optimize and promote optimal health. We are also the national purveyors of the EZCOACH Fitness Prescription System licensed by fitness professionals.