I purchased my first digital camera in 2007. It was on sale, so I bought it for half the original price. I used the camera faithfully until the fall of 2008, when I dropped it during a wedding reception and broke the lens. I decided that it was too much of a hassle to pay the shipping to send it back to the manufacturer, so I told my father that he could keep it if he wanted to pay to have it fixed.
When the camera arrived in the mail, I was about to reclaim it and resume my amateur photography, but then I remembered that I promised my dad he could keep it. By leaving my camera in his hands, I forfeited any right I had to take it back. The camera wasn’t mine anymore even though I was its original owner.
That lesson came in handy a few years later. I was working as a part-time customer service rep for the children’s department, when a position opened up as a part-time newsstand clerk. It was a more task-oriented job, so I decided to apply for it.
I didn’t like it–at all, but by the time I realized how much I couldn’t stand it, my former position had already been filled by someone else. I gave up my position so I couldn’t get it back. Eventually, I grew to accept my role, and did better than I expected to. (I still wasn’t as good as the woman who originated the position, or the person who preceded me, but then again, no one was)
A few years later, I was considered for a position as the full-time shipper receiver after the original receiver (who was amazing) got a job in her chosen field. I wasn’t the first choice, (not by a long shot) but because I was already full-time and had 2 years of training, I was probably the most convenient choice.
On paper, it looked like a poor fit. For example, I am five feet tall (short), and around 110 pounds (though I weighed even less back then). I was too short to reach anything, to weak to lift anything, and I kept making stupid mistakes, like sorting books and merchandise in the wrong sections. Also? I had to take out the garbage and recycling–every single morning. One day, I had 78 bags of garbage to toss, and two 5 foot stacks of cardboard.
Needless to say, I did not like the job, and I wanted to do anything else, but other people were in the roles I decided to leave. I gave my positions away so I couldn’t take them back.
I didn’t have other options, so I decided to dig in my heels, and make the best of my new job. In the years since, I have gone from being too weak to lift anything, to tossing 40 pound wooden pallets as though they were made of cardboard. I have made peace with taking out the garbage, and I’ve even invented a game called “garbage ball” in which I toss bags of garbage from the door and see if they land in the bin. (I’m not good at it, but it’s fun) I don’t make as many mistakes as I used to. I’m twice as efficient, and I have learned how to adapt in a variety of situations.
On one of my favourite work days to date, I had to make room for eight pallets of merchandise by receiving and unpacking six pallets in four hours, and because it’s the holiday season, I had to do it with a limited amount of help. (Normally there are several people who help every day. On this day, I had one person, who had many other jobs to do) So it was just me, running around with my handheld, and sorting things in neat piles. It was both fun and productive.
For some reason, that day reminded me of something my friend once told me. She said, “You’re the type of person who likes to stay hidden, but you can’t help but stand out. The more you try to hide, the more you’ll be promoted. You don’t want to be noticed, but there will come a day when everyone will notice you. They’ll all be wondering what you’ve got that makes everything work in your favour. Once you gain momentum, nothing and no one will be able to hold you back.”
Mind you, she told me this when I was still a part-timer, so all I did was nod and smile, and pretend I understood what she was saying. My friend also told me that I had a problem with intimidation. The reason why I didn’t want to be noticed by anyone else is because I was intimidated by them, and as long as I was intimidated by people, I couldn’t properly live for God.
Fast forward to today. I’ve been working at the job I used to hate for 5 years, and I have seen every single person I worked with be replaced. The person who took over my position in the children’s department no longer works there. Ditto for the person who took over my position in the magazine department. I am in a place now, where I genuinely enjoy what I’m doing, but not enough to stay there forever.
I recognize that retail is a great career for those who are passionate about people, service, and sales. Many people who have retail jobs are there because that’s all they think they can do. Staying on past my best before date would be a disservice to me and my employer. (Have you ever met anyone who’s been at their job for too long? They have stank attitudes. They no longer have respect for authority, and they’re always complaining about EVERYTHING!) I am not going to leave as a bitter shell of my former self.
Instead, I will leave, full of hope, with my future before me. My plan is to go back to university without having to borrow from anyone.
I’ve been saving money since August, so it has left the realm of a “pipe-dream” and turned into a long-term plan.
I will always be grateful for the role my job has played in my life. I have met some genuinely kind, wonderful people there, (as well as some kind of genuine people who are full of it, and often make me wonder) But am so thankful I have the opportunity to earn a living–not everyone can say the same.
I was an 18 year old kid when I started, and now I’m a soon-to-be 32 year-old woman. I finally figured out that I couldn’t change my attitude until I changed my mind. Now I am certain that, when I move to the next phase of my life, I will not want to go back and reclaim what I had.
What is ahead of me will be too great to pass up 🙂