Mr. Perfect has a solid relationship with Bunnings, particularly in Sydney. Plus I have a huge soft-spot for them.
It's not the fact I walk out two hours later with things I didn't need or could have ordered online elsewhere. Or the super-friendly and genuine staff. It's the overall experience. And today was no different.
Recently Mr. Perfect was invited to have a simple table in the car park entrance at Bunnings Artarmon (after previously doing the intense but rewarding Sausage Sizzle fundraiser).
It's fairly local to me so I donned the Mr. P tee and hat and joined our BBQ Host for the area, Kyle, to talk to customers and give away a few pieces of merchandise.
But these events are not without their triggers internally. No matter how much I prepare, the anxiety of what may seem a simple affair can derail me temporarily.
For example, arriving 30 minutes early (as I always do for anything) I realised I had forgotten our fliers (and then later realised our banner too). Not a big deal considering I had our much more subtle and wallet-friendly cards.
Then I realised I had forgotten a pen for the competition entry and a sharpie for a sign. Upstairs to the store I went looking for these items. Instead of doing what my wife does and asking for help, clearly and efficiently, to the nearest staff member I did "vintage Terry"; pace around the store not asking for help and in the process taking far longer than it should have.
The inevitable autopilot thoughts came, "I should just pack up and go home, no one would know," and, "Is this worth it, why would anyone talk to us?"
The beauty was in the past this scenario may have brought on an episode of anxiety, a runaway train until derailment. But this time I consciously observed myself physically and mentally and harnessed it, until it dispersed.
When Kyle arrived he commented how good the table looked. I laughed and said I was worried it looked crap. I know Kyle but we've only met twice, yet we got chatting about the real stuff pretty quickly and how we deal with different mental challenges. Cue a feeling of ease and comfort, which helped when customers approached.
Given the nature of what we do I don't proactively give an exhibition-style pitch. But when people do lean in we tend to get a pleasant conversation going. A handful today truly stood out.
Firstly, a friendly thirty-something man. We talked for five minutes and at the end after taking about his two kids he revealed he has bipolar type 1, was only diagnosed a year ago and it "knocked him for six" but he was doing his best to manage it.
Secondly, a sixty-something lady that was checking out our sign (the "mental health" text in our branding is small in comparison which I think actually makes the curious engage to find out more). She was with her elderly mum but had time to rummage through her purse (even though we weren't taking donation), apologise for only having $3.80 in change to give us and then tellingly as her elevator was about to leave, mentioning "I wanted to donate, my husband has mental health issues" and quickly waving goodbye.
Thirdly, a thirty-something lady that had worked in healthcare and designing a mental health unit in a hospital. She learnt so much from it but also related to when I talked of the sometimes too-often default reaction of prescribing medication (without considering or promoting the many other options in the toolbox at the same time).
Several other conversations left me feeling it was worth it, even the ladies that hilariously commented "Where is my Mr. Perfect, can I find him here?" And no-one cared about my hastily written, home-made sign on the back of a cardboard box.
The lesson today? Keep it simple. The common themes today? Grassroots, community, connection. Driven and cared about by all, not just men.