An Upgrade in Talent, A Stalemate in Attitude
I had a job at sixteen working retail. I worked for a place called Tuesday Morning. They had me stocking shelves, unloading merchandise from their towers of boxes in the back, and helping customers find stuff. I also swept; I remember doing lots of sweeping. I probably helped close every night, but couldn’t do too much to actually close as they tried to train me to be a cashier, but found me lacking somehow.
The register was complicated; there were three computer screens; some things you had to scan and some you had to enter in manually. I had to have lots of codes memorized, and I probably should have felt really defiant that they never put me back on the register after that first day. I should have protested, saying that one day isn’t long enough to learn this complex system; I did feel helpless at the situation, but I had a trusting attitude toward my superiors. They knew what they wanted me to do, and I’d do whatever I was assigned as well as I possibly could. I felt eager and willing to do basically anything anyone asked me, except for the obvious stuff like stealing. I went to the job whenever they wanted me after school.
Then I just stopped being on the schedule. I scrutinized my memory of any actions that might stop them from putting me on the schedule. I felt a moderate amount of guilt for something small that i did wrong, something slightly off the radar; however, I knew it was small and knew I probably shouldn’t be worrying about it. It was something like I had hidden some small thing I coveted in the clearance section because I wanted it. It could have been that I broke something while removing it from its shipping box and didn’t report it like I should have.
After a few weeks of no work, my manager called me and asked me to come in because she needed to talk to me. I remember she used phrases like, “I really wanted to keep you on, but…” and “I’m sorry, there’s not really a definite reason I’m letting you go…” The one I remembered most immediately after was, “We overhired and since you’re the last one we hired…” I felt the same I did about the job; I didn’t really want to be let go, but I was certain that the managers knew best. Still, I cried. I can’t really tell you why; I suppose I just never imagined being fired.
I got a job last week. I work at Family Dollar. I had applied to one toward the end of February, and this is not the same location. I’m classified as “Cashier”. This cash register is a lot simpler; scan and bag, then hit one button when you’ve got it all. And if that’s not all of it after all, just scan and hit the same button over again.
I also do a lot of cleaning and stocking; there are coolers to be filled with 2-liter Coke products, front doors that collect grubby children’s fingerprints, and an entire store that needs to be swept and mopped. I have a few other duties as well that I’m still learning, but even after seven years, I still feel like the managers are the boss. Now, that might seem redundant, but I’ve met people who second-guess what their managers tell them to do, who hesitate and dawdle when given a task.
Not me. I strive to do all the closing duties (clean the front rug, stock the coolers, sweep and mop at least my four aisles) and agonize more than I should when my cash drawer comes up short. I try my best not to tune out that dingling noise when people walk in the door; I know I’m supposed to greet and scan every customer when they come in the door, but I want to have a meaningful conversation with all of them. With my poor vision and my hearing-impairment, I think my mamagers have gotten used to me by now, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I handle simple jobs best. This one makes my feet ache, but I can handle it. I can even excel at it, given the time. And even after seven years, an entire college education, and one bad retail experience, I still feel eager and ready to do anything the job requires, in the most efficient manner and within my range of capability.
Funny that, even though it’s considered a low job and it does give pretty low pay, I still feel pretty accomplished when I get home every day.