The store itself was much more of family vibe; it wasn't a huge franchise so the closest sister store was in Oklahoma. Which means that 80% of it's customers were die hard locals - and 60% of those customers were really cranky old people. I firmly believe that having that job and working my way up to proving myself there has really been what made me think I belong in business. To me, each day was a challenge because my knowledge on everything hardware, lumber, and plants was next to nothing. Every day there was something for me to learn.
|A shitty quality selfie on probably a flip phone when me and a coworker made hats out of our shopping bags because we were bored. #children|
One thing I realized just recently was how fleeting knowledge can be if you don't keep up with it. Manolo made a joke the other day when I didn't know how to use some screw or some sort that "it's not like you worked at a hardware store for four years or anything." After working there for so long, when dirty construction men would come up to me at the register with a cart of wood, I could decipher each type and their sizes just by looking at them and be able to type in their SKUs by memory. Now, most of that is gone from my brain. I don't want that to happen in other parts of my life. For a long while, writing felt a lot like that. I hadn't done it in so long I forgot what my writing voice sounded like. I forgot how I liked to write. It wasn't comfortable anymore. Hence this blog.
The most important thing I took away from my time at that dusty old store was the managers I had. I had three really, really, good managers while I worked there. You know how they say that you don't appreciate your parents until you're older because you understand them better? I feel that way with those managers. They were firm, but friendly. They taught me lessons I didn't realize I needed. They took every chance to explain something so I could understand in the long term, not just in the moment. Do you know how hard it is to keep a teenager's attention on why a certain weed killer is better than another?
Now in my current job, sometimes I feel the faint sound of their voice in the back of my head when I'm making decisions. Once, one of them was dealing with an unruly customer upset over the price of something or other - he was cursing and stomping his feet like a toddler, and me as a 16 year old thought my manager was just going to give in to shut this man up. Instead, he told him firmly that the price stood. The man went up in uproar about how his business is important to us and we don't want to lose it and I watched as my manager told him kindly that his business was always appreciated, but his behavior wasn't, he could quit with the obscenities and accept the price or he could leave.
Afterwards, he came over to talk to me about it and I remember saying how shocked I was that he straight up told this man to leave and he responded with something I have found myself telling my associates now, "You are a person before you are an employee - there is a line between customer service and just utter disrespect. Don't let someone talk to you in a way that demeans you just because you get paid to service them." You are a person before you are an employee. Looking back now, I didn't realize how they were molding me everyday to someday be someone else's boss and be the kind of managers they were. I was lucky at such a young time to have ground work set for me that was going to help me be successful in the long run.