When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get a job. Sure, it would be a good way to make friends and learn how to prepare myself for the real world, but for me, it was mostly about making my own money. Having to ask my parents for cash every time I needed some annoyed me, mostly because they’d always say no. Every time they did, I would always whine and complain about how different things would be when I had money of my own, how I would never ask them for anything, and so on. This wasn’t entirely true, but at the time it seemed like a smart thing to say. I must’ve applied to dozens of jobs, and when I finally got the email telling me that I needed to come down for an interview, I was excited. Sure, the job was only seasonal, but hey, at least I was finally going to have my own cash.
After the interview was over with and I’d filled out the appropriate forms, I was ready to start my first day at my store, Things Remembered. My gut was all tied up in tangles as I nervously approached the store, hoping to make a good first impression. The store was bright, and the ceiling was covered in halogen lights that lit up the displays. Display signs littered the store to the point where they were almost overwhelming, almost as if the whole store was trying to yell out “Hey you, that jewelry box is free with every single purchase you make in the store! So buy something!”. Water globes littered the entire right half of the store; from waving cats to a snowman whose head was the water globe, that store had them all.
Two people stood by the dog tag displays, arguing rather loudly about which dog tag was better. In the distance, one other person was frantically talking on the phone to a friend, practically begging him for help on what to get his wife for their anniversary. Unfortunately, as soon as I entered the store I ended up walking into a display sign. The two people by the dog tags of course pointed at me and laughed. Sure, it was a rough start. But hey, it could only get better. My manager was a bubbly, middle-aged lady named Susan, who cheerfully introduced herself to me and got me down to training right away.
The first thing I had to do was read a manual that was about 3/4th the width of your average college textbook. I groaned as she handed it to me and told me to be done within an hour. Good old Susan. It only took me an hour and a half to do it, too. After I was done with that, I was given some tips on dealing with customers; nothing I didn’t already know: smile and politely greet anyone who walks into the store, ask them what occasion they’re shopping for, and try to get a sale. Seemed easy enough to me. Oh, but that wasn’t all I had to do on my first day. Between helping customers, I would also have to learn to use the engraver, the very heart and soul of the store.
Everything in that store could be engraved, so I needed to at least learn how to use “The Engravinator,” as everyone in the store called it. So I was given a small metal plate, with different shapes on it- hearts, circles, ovals, squares, rectangles and even a star. Susan handed me a piece of paper with different sentences on it and told me what to engrave on what shape, once she’d taught me how to use the machine, of course. At this point, the pressure was starting to sink in.
My palms were sweaty, and this voice kept yelling at me in my head, “Hey I know it’s your first day, but you better do the best you can otherwise you’re gonna lose this job, man!” However, right before I could even start engraving, I heard a lady call for help at the register. Right as I turned around to greet her, she slammed an album down onto the counter and started yelling at me. She was complaining about how terrible the engraving and store service were, and demanding a full refund. All the while I stood there terrified, with no idea what to do and no one to ask for help, because Susan was in the back.
Before she was even done, thankfully, Susan came out, apologized for the inconvenience, and gave her a full refund. She told me to take five and not to worry about engraving today. The rest of the day, all I did was work on my sales skills and help put out inventory. It wasn’t until the end of the day that Susan pulled me aside and gave me some good advice. In her words, “People in the store are going to drive you mad.
They are the pickiest, finickiest folks I’ve ever seen. But if you keep a smile on your face, keep calm and do a good job, you’ll survive the day, and we’ll get along just fine.” Even though it wasn’t exactly the greatest advice ever, it was what helped me keep my sanity the whole season I was there. I made some good friends, good money and I realized that working isn’t as easy as it seems. But all in all, it was a good job, and a good experience.
My First Day At Work
“Hi, welcome to Walgreens. Did you need a bag for ten cents? Thank you have a nice day and be well.”
Those were the words I heard once I stepped behind the counter. It was like a chant, everyone working around me chanting at different times and speeds. As I scan my name tag to sign into computer I feel my palms beginning to get warm and sweaty. “I can help the next person in line please.” As the young woman and her child walk towards me, I can hear my heart beating and my face getting red. As she gets closer to the register I forget how am I supposed to greet our customers. “Hi how are you? Did you need a bag? Your total is $17.89. Thank you, have a nice day.” Close, close to how I’m suppose to attend to a customer. As the next person walks towards me, I was confident and felt as this one will be easier. “Hi welcome to walgreens. Do you need a bag for ten cents? Your total is $78.90.” As this wealthy man handed me his money, I take it look at it. All of a sudden these green pieces of paper look unfamiliar to me. I have never seen these before. I feel myself getting red and sweaty and embarrassed. I look at the man while he’s patiently waiting. I had forgotten how to count. I look at the man and apologize. As I take a deep breath I slowly begin to count one by one. I give the man his change. “Thank you have a nice day and be well!”
As I try to call for the next customer in line, a huge hand before my eyes turns off the light of my register. I quickly turn my head and look up. “Hi my name is J, I’m a manager here, so you’ll be working for me today. I sadly shake my head and begin to walk behind him. “How old are you?” “I’m only eighteen.” I said as I tried to memorize the code he put into the door to get to the stockroom. “So were going to fill up aisle 6, where all the teas belong. Grab these boxes and open them with this cutter.” I had never used a cutter before, when he handed me the cold sharp object, I looked at it and hoped I wouldn’t do something stupid and embarrassing like cut myself. As I slowly open the box he rolls a dirty, old, gray cart to me and says “put all these boxes on here, we’re also going to fill up the front of the store.” I shook my head and began to stack the boxes as well as cutting them open. I felt as the manager was very demanding, somewhat bossy but didn’t say much because I still wasn’t able to say I felt comfortable or that I got over the fact I was nervous. As I push the cart out of the stock room, the manager quickly puts his foot on to the cart and stopped me. I looked at him confused and somewhat afraid. “Did you write down the codes for the doors?” I felt relieved that I didn’t do anything wrong. “I have already memorized it. It’s 05618#” He looked at me surprised and stuttered “oh okay.”
I walked slowly pushing the only cart making sure I wasn’t going to run into the wall, shelf, or customer. J quickly picks up a box and begins to restock items on the shelf. I stood and watched him for a minute to be able to see what way he wants me to put these items up. My only concern was not get in trouble or said anything to because of a mistake I made. I grab a box of granola bars and begin to look for the item on the shelf trying to keep up with his speed. He looks at me with a grin that I never thought I would have seen because he looked like someone very strict and said “You’ll learn to memorize where every item in this store lays. You will learn what aisle, what side of the aisle, and what shelf the items is on. Just keep trying.” As I spend over an hour restocking teas and granola bars, I stand up after being bent over for so long and feel a sore pain in my lower back. I take a step back and look at the aisle I just finished restocking. J comes from behind me and asks me if I want to take my lunch. I didn’t hesitate on saying yes. I quickly went into the back. I walked to the office where there was a ladder that was meant for me in order to get into my locker because the only locker available for me was the very top one. As I carefully climb on to the ladder, I read my combination that I wrote down on my name tag and turn my lock to zero. 21, 30, 9 are the numbers I put in. It’s incorrect. I try again 21, 30, 9, still I’m not able to get into my locker. I try once more, 21, 30, 9, I’m still not able to get into my locker. Luckily J happens to walk by and sees me struggling with my locker. “Do you need me to open that for you?” “Yes please.”
I gave him my combination, 21,30, 9 and he quickly opened my locker with no problem whatsoever. I take off my name tag and leave it in my small locker while I reach over for my phone. I notice there is no service, which meant I had to leave the store to contact my boyfriend. I close my locker slowly and get down from the ladder slowly. I turn around to where I’m supposed to clock out for my lunch. As I’m patiently waiting for the clock to turn 5:30 on the dot, I begin to read the small print of papers on top of the time machine. “San Francisco Minimum Wage as of 2014 is $10.74” this information wasn’t new to me. I quickly got the chills and my back pain quickly reappeared.
It’s exactly 5 o’ clock, I clock out. I walk quickly through the aisles towards the doors as I feel my eyes beginning to water. As I get by the door, my phone has full service once again. I call my boyfriend. As soon as I hear his deep voice answer my call and say “Hey babe, how’s work going?” My tears begin to fall faster and faster, even heavier. I lose it. I’m hysterical. As I try to control my crying, I can barely speak. “ It’s horrible” I say with almost a snort in my voice. “I want to go home. I can’t do this. It’s not worth it. I don’t ever want to work in my life again. I have never had to work for a whole hour for ten dollars.”
“ Babe, it’s okay stop crying. It’ll get better I promise. You’re half way through done with your shift just hang in there.”
This is when I came to realize getting an education and having a career was very important for me. It was something I knew I HAVE to go for because all the work I was doing for only earning minimum wage wasn’t fair. I realized that I don’t ever want to work myself to exhaustion for only ninety dollars a day. Now that I have been at Walgreens for almost a year, I can say J was right. I did learn where every item is in the store and what side of the aisle it would be. My job has become easier because I am now accustomed to it and it has become a routine, but it still isn’t something I want to do for the rest of my life. Even though minimum wage has gone up a couple dollars, it still isn’t enough for what I provide for the store. This job experiencing has helped me with my communication skills as well as learning how manage time on what I must get done. Taking the next step in my life going on to college, I’m glad to say I am one of the few people who will not struggle keeping up with both a job and school work because I pushed myself to juggle both a full time job as well as full time at school.