How To Get Stuff, By Hazel F.

We dragged our 7-year-old to the Alameda Flea Market, kicking and screaming and clawing for her iPad as we pushed her out the door. Secretly, I thought about staying home too, mostly to work on an online course I’d been building for how to look for work.

Glad we didn’t stay home, though. The Flea Market had a lesson for us, and for me in particular.

Hazel’s mood turned as soon as she saw all the jewelry and gemstones lining the tables that repeated themselves off into the horizon. We stopped at every sparkly booth.

Hazel didn’t spend any of the $5 we gave her, but she got plenty of stuff.

First, the guy in the tie-dye gave her a big pin that said BOSS on it with a rainbow behind it. She put it on immediately.

Next, she got a bejeweled snap-open case — probably for holding a small photo or maybe cocaine. She gasped when she saw it and pulled me over to look at it. The vendor, this time a pair of bearded late-twenties hipster guys, offered it up to her.

“I heard her call you dadda. That’s what my girl calls me. She can have it.”

Hazel beamed.

There was one more item, the greatest win of the day, given by a tall white woman with white-blonde hair in black overalls. She had hundreds of rings set out with glass-blown eyeballs on them. Hazel kept picking them up, putting them in my face, and making scary noises.


I’d feign fear, and she’d laugh every time, put it down, then pick up another one.


In the background, the overalled woman was in a squat doing something with her hands. She popped up and walked over with a locket that had a clear top and about 30 tiny little glass eyeballs inside. She handed it to Hazel and showed her how the little swivel knob opened and closed the case.

Then she looked at me. “I love her enthusiasm.”

I got the sense this woman loved her work, that there were shittier jobs before this one.

And then she said, “Enthusiasm, kindness, and curiosity. I reward those things.”

Wait a minute. That’s my line. I just wrote that exact same line this morning (Okay, maybe not exact). But that’s what my job-search course is about.

We can all take a lesson from Hazel.

Whether looking for a job or gemstone, step away from the screen, get out there, be enthusiastic, curious, and kind, and good stuff will come to you. It’s funny; when you’re off networking with people, you don’t get an interview by asking. You usually get it by being enthusiastic, curious, and kind.

And it’s gotta be genuine. The fake stuff doesn’t work. You need to bring the wonder of a 7-year-old into the conversation.

Even if you don’t get stuff right then and there — we can’t all be Hazel! — you’ll be better off, you may learn something, and you’ll make someone’s day. Like rows of hand-made eyeball rings on a tapestry, these are the things to be treasured.