Four Small Words

Recently, my little state of NJ I call my home had a blizzard. Ah, got to love the strangeness of the seasons. I thought January was the dead of winter.

I was scheduled to work on that day and still had every intent of going. Some people didn’t exactly agree, however. No one in my household supported me going. Two questioned why I’m willing to endure a snowstorm to attend work, but not school (because my job pays me), and one even had the nerve to say something is wrong with me (this same person had to stay home from yesterday night because he got sick from being too drunk, and that’s not the first time; you can guess how seriously I took his opinion). The last of those three tried again to make his vague threat of not picking me up or dropping me off. A threat is not really a threat when you can get around it.

Yes, I know the weather was bad and potentially dangerous. I’m not suggesting they didn’t have a point (though they could’ve made it more tactfully). A small part of me felt bad for going because, as it turned out, if I’d stayed home, the manager on duty could’ve closed the store since I was the only cashier who came in (yes, we still got customers). Whoops! The joys of still learning how retail works. On top of that, she’d told me on the phone I didn’t have to come in, but I somehow missed that part. All I recall her asking is if I’m still coming in. If I’d heard her tell me I didn’t have to, I would’ve stayed home. Plus, I really would’ve loved to have stayed in bed like just about everyone else was probably doing!

So, why was I hellbent on going to work? I wasn’t. But I genuinely like being at my job, not so much because of what I do or how I get paid, but because being around my co-workers is a lot more pleasant than being around my family members. In the end, I worked for 9 1/2 hours that day (I was scheduled for 4 1/2), and I have no regrets because of one thing I got to hear from one of my (now former) supervisors: “I’m proud of you.”

To give some context, since the store was open, that supervisor decided to still come in. A broken down car resulted in him being two hours late, but he still came. I’d say he’s even more determined than I was because while a snowstorm wouldn’t stop me, my mode of transportation being dead would’ve been where I called it quits because I wouldn’t have seen another way. Anyway, when he came in, he came up to the register to see how I was doing and I mentioned I’d been there since morning. He already knew. I wasn’t surprised he knew I was there because he’d called the store three times and I’d answered every call. What I didn’t know was he knew how long I’d been there. Apparently, the first manager had told him. What followed was the quoted sentence.

It’s certainly not the first time that particular supervisor has praised me for what I’ve done, but in those situations, I’d asked for his opinion because I was anxious about if I’m really good at my job or not. On this occasion, I hadn’t asked. I was shocked to hear that come from him, especially since there wasn’t much of customer service to run since we had only a handful of customers. But it made my day and, besides the pride of doing my job, hearing him tell me that made enduring that weather to come to work worth the effort. Few times have I been so happy to have been born with a stubborn personality.

Maybe I still am crazy for going. Maybe people would call him crazy for still coming, in spite of having a broken down car. Maybe everyone who still worked that day is crazy for showing up. I can say with certainty if that ever happens again, I will opt to stay home, if only to let everyone else stay home too. But I really cannot say I wish it hadn’t happened or I regret I went. What he told me is going to stick with me.

Four small words. And they meant everything.

Ending One Chapter Starts Another

I know I’m probably going to eat my words somewhere down the line, but this year is already starting off well. And that means something since it didn’t particularly end well.

My job as a cashier is a seasonal position, so after a certain date, I was supposed to be let go. Key word: was.

I learned today it’s planned for me to stay on the team after the seasonal period ends, although it’s probably news I wasn’t supposed to learn this early. When I was working today, I confided in the supervisor on duty it was a concern on my mind, but I didn’t want to come across as a nag for daring to ask the manager in charge of it. She told me to ask anyway since we’re allowed (my workplace has an “open-door policy”, which means you can speak to any manager or supervisor you want at any time if you need something) and since I was already at work, I swallowed my fear and asked when I went on break. The answer was yes. When I returned from break, I very happily (but quietly) thanked the supervisor for encouraging me to do that. She was happy for me.

I work my first job and I didn’t fail at it! I still marvel at being able to hold down a job, so to learn I’m keeping it blew me right out of the water!

The other goodness for 2017 is, although it was unneeded, I got a reminder of just how strong a certain person’s love is for me. The circumstances that revealed it weren’t so pleasant and I have enough humility to admit those circumstances were my fault. No, I’m not asking for a cookie. The end of the matter of was when he became hysterical over me and sobbed for about five to ten minutes. Few things have crushed me with so much guilt as when I realized I caused that. To top it off, he called himself pathetic for crying and pushed me away when I tried to comfort him (after asking for me to do it just two minutes ago), insisting he didn’t deserve it. Let me make that clear: I hurt him, but he was crying over me. He was hysterical over the person who hurt him because he believed it was the other way around and he’d hurt me.

Before that happened, he’d been prepared to wait all day for me because he didn’t yet know I’d already left home. Now, I’ll admit that sounds stalker-ish on the surface, but these plans were arranged and agreed to, and he didn’t have reason to believe they changed.

I’m fortunate to have someone who loves me so much, he deems me worth having an emotional breakdown over, and right after I hadn’t been so kind to him. I deserved that guilt and, really, so much more than that. He once said I spoil him because I often pay for much of our outings since I have a job. He’s wrong. He spoils me with so much love and patience like that. I genuinely love him and I don’t plan on putting him to a test, especially when I know all too well the misfortune of not having people who love you or have your best interests at heart.

I already know the happiness won’t last and there are some difficult times coming up. In fact, there’s one I’ve been aware of for a very long time. But I’ll have to face it when it comes and knowing I have the above, I’m not afraid of it anymore because it’s not a problem I created. For now, however, I’ll simply enjoy the joy ride.

A Different Perspective

For the most part, I like going to work. Maybe not the actual “work” part of it (who does?) because it is tedious, but I like being around my co-workers and getting out of the house every once in a while. They’ve been slowly increasing my hours, and I think they did it well. They started me off with 10 hours a week. Then, they gradually increased it until it was 19 hours for a while. Now, I’ve been working over 20 hours per week as of late. Granted, in one case, that was due to being called in because another person called out and I accepted, but besides that, the hours have been scheduled for me.

However, there’s one particular thing at my job I really appreciate.

I’ve talked about my family plenty of times on this blog. Sometimes, it’s been positive, but most of the time, it hasn’t. Most of my family members are very judgmental people who make me feel like I live in an eternal high school. They criticize the tiniest things, and I don’t mean only myself. It goes without saying I’ve struggled with my self-esteem most, if not all, of my life. I don’t believe I had any esteem until my late teen years, and while that was partially due to over a decade of school bullying, my family was worse than any bully ever was.

At my job, it’s the total opposite. Not only is there no judgment, but much of the time, I’m discouraged from being hard on myself. I’m told to relax and go slowly. I feel guilty and incompetent when I make mistakes, but instead of being yelled at or criticized, I’m simply told it happens and to be a little more careful. If I need help, I get it without hesitation. I had a customer get angry with me because I didn’t know the answer to a question. One of my co-workers told me not to be bothered by it.

It’s not only the other cashiers who do this. The supervisors are the same. One supervisor outright told me to my face, “You’re human. You’ll make mistakes.” He then proceeded to tell me about much worse mistakes previous cashiers have made, that, in my opinion, sounded like there was no way they could’ve been mistakes. This same supervisor had previously told me about customers attempting to return items that belonged to other stores not of the company’s.

I love the lax attitude and it really does help me feel good about how I perform at my job. At the same time, it feels so strange. I’m so used to being criticized for something as small as the color of my headband, it feels odd to not be told off for mistakes I do make. The person at my job who kicks myself most for screwing up is me. Staying calm about it is easier said than done.

I do try to learn from my mistakes and figure out something that’ll prevent it next time. Most of my mistakes, ironically, are a result of me working too fast because I feel self-conscious and like the customer feels impatient when I work slowly. To be fully honest, I’m surprised I’m even capable of holding down this job. Being a cashier is by no means the most difficult job on Earth, but as someone who’d never held a job before, it was nerve-wracking to me. Of course, now, it’s another part of my weekly routine. I feel like I’m going to miss it when the seasonal period is over. Or, more specifically, I’ll miss my co-workers.