So help me, God 


Alcoholics are so lucky. Just for admitting that they're powerless booze Hoovers, they get free group therapy, sponsors and coffee. If you're a garden variety horse's ass and haven't been smart enough to put "-aholic" after any of your hobbies, what do you get? Nothing. No 12-step track for you. You're on your own, the proverbial blind Mouseketeer on Anything Can Happen Day.

But finally someone has figured out that it's not just tipplers, gamblers, perverts and others with a full recreational schedule who need serenity prayers. It's people who work for a living. An item in Allure magazine says that Douglas Cox, a hair-care exec, has put together "A Miracle in My Hands: A Stylist's Inspiration," a $10 package that's meant to give hairdressers some of the support that the "-aholics" have been hogging up for years. (Isn't that just like them?)

The package includes things like the Stylist's Prayer: "Grant me the courage to send my client back into life with the knowledge, the tools and the products they need to ensure their confidence and style." (This must be the prayer for good stylists; bad ones would need, "Grant me the courage to send Big Bird here back into the strip mall believing it's more blond than yellow." ) He also reminds stylists to reassure nervous Nelly clients: "I know that you discovered painfully that how you see one-half inch and how your stylist views it are not at all the same." This is so true. You wouldn't believe how many people have screwy ideas about what constitutes an inch. You know this if you've ever said "trim my bangs" and ended up with a hairline like Schlitzie the Pinhead.

Let us pray

If you've ever clenched your teeth till you tasted blood waiting for a cashier who moves at the same pace as the continental drift, or if you've ever had a customer screech at you like a wild chimp because it's YOUR fault there was a snow storm in Chicago and their flight got canceled, you know exactly how much being anywhere near the service sector can drive you insane. Our increasingly hectic lives cause us to rely on the service of others more and more, too -- probably why America used to have calm, interesting hobbies like bridge and LSD, and now we have road rage and Prozac.

That's precisely why Cox's idea of job-related serenity is so important. Here are some other workers who could do with niche prayers and spiritual customer relations:

Flight attendants. Prayer: "Grant me the courage to bring another tiny bottle of gin to that bastard in 13A even though he just remarked that it was 'a little nippy in here.'" Customer relations: "I know you discovered painfully that your idea of peanuts and my idea of peanuts are two different things, but if you don't stop bugging me I'll disconnect your oxygen mask while you're in the bathroom."

Adult Toy Store Clerks. Prayer: "Grant me the courage to send my customers out into the world armed with the great big tools they need to avoid going to bars and bugging people like me for sex." Customer relations: "I know it's expensive. Think what you'd be spending on a girlfriend."

Bartenders. Prayer: "Grant me the depth to understand why people's friendliness increases exponentially with their inability to talk." Customer relations: "I know you love me, man. I love you, too."

Sacred and profane

Retail Clothing Salespeople. Prayer: "Grant me the ability to say, 'Can I get you that in another size?' without it sounding like 'You're not seriously going to try packing all that into a size 8, are you?'" Customer relations: "You think you know what you want, but you wouldn't know style if it crawled up your fanny and built a nest. Let me help. You have such a pretty face."

Traffic Cops. Prayer: "Let me throw them all in jail. All of them. Just for a day." Customer relations: "You think I have the gun, the badge and all the control over the rest of your life. You know what? You're right."

Chuck E. Cheese. Prayer: "Grant me the luck that no kids get sick today, because if I catch that scent I'm going to throw up inside my own head." Customer relations: "I know you think it's real funny when you run head first into my crotch like a battering ram, but it's quite painful, and despite having you as an example, Chuck E. might want to have children one day."

OK, it's not deep meditation, but even the most fleeting moment of reflection is more than most of us take in a day. Besides, why should all the junkies get to double-up on serenity? Isn't passing out cold as serene as it gets?


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