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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I'm getting too old for all of this, or is it too young?

Life can be pretty tough sometimes, and it is always going to be unpredictable. These are the things--among others--that make it interesting and fun, sad and often seemingly unbearable. I've known this for a long time; it was taught to me practically from birth, and then instilled further in me by the lessons of my parents: namely, having to get a job at the age of 15. Though I had my moments of hating working in those early days, usually when I had to miss out on a school dance or some other naturally life changing (haha) event, I found that I thrived in the workplace pretty much from the get-go. Customer service was, and still is I hope, my thing. I love interacting with people and (usually) spreading as much joy as possible. I've worked in fast food, upscale restaurants, and those oddly misplaced in-between ones that don't seem to fit into any category of restaurant exactly. I've worked countless registers and numerous customer service desks. I've been doing volunteer work for as long as I can remember, namely, spending 40 hours a week during the summer when I was 13 volunteering at a daycare near my parents' jobs. I've cleaned houses, condos, and apartments, and I've also been the head cleaning lady/maid for an awesome bed and breakfast--where I often pulled double duty by serving the rich at upscale shindigs hosted at said B&B. There have been moments I've wanted to rip my hair out--or really, the hair of so many, unnamed obnoxious, cruel, etc. etc. customers, but in the end, I've loved each and every job.

Like I said, customer service seems to be my thing, which probably helps explain why I dove so passionately into psychology and resurfaced with both a bachelors of arts degree in the subject and and intense, ongoing love of all things psychological. People often seem shocked that I'm working in a bookstore after I've already gotten my degree, but these people should realize that well over half of the staff in my store alone have college degree in a diverse, amazing group of subjects. And, if any of those shocked customers stepped back and used their own intuition, they would realize that I employ the use of that degree every single day; honestly, most days I use it multiple times each hour of every day. Because I'm not working directly in my field, people assume my degree is being wasted.

It's not. It certainly isn't the way I imagined I would be using it, but I wouldn't change my experiences for the world. Even now, as I'm trying to branch out (LSAT) towards "bigger and better" things, I realize that those aren't the right adjectives to describe my new quest at all: "different and slightly unnerving" probably fit better. Though so many try to make me feel-- intentionally or not--that what I'm doing isn't good enough (read: you have soooooo much potential! what a waste of such intelligence! blah blah blah!), I don't feel the same way at all...and haven't for quite some time. I love what I do, and the family I've created for myself at work, and one of the hardest parts about even deciding to TAKE the LSAT was knowing that, eventually, I would have to leave my home at the bookstore--and more upsetting, my family there--behind in order to take such a leap of faith. The thing is, I want to try law because I think I would be good at it, and I believe I could help a great deal of people, especially using the psychology and law together. Dubious looks abound from strangers, family members, friends, your mom...when I tell people wanting to help others is my primary reason for wanting to take such a risk. Everybody assumes, and many opt to voice loudly, that it has to be because I want to make more money more than anything else. Seriously??

I won't even try to lie and say I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to not have to, quite literally, live paycheck to paycheck. My bank account the day before pay day usually ranges anywhere from $10 to, no lie, 6 cents. It would be wonderful to make unexpected plans with a friend to go out for dinner and drinks and not have to spend an hour budgeting before I go. I'd love to be able to travel and see my friends in their hometowns nowadays without worrying that I won't be able to eat anything but Ramen noodles for the next 6 months. And I would have loved to have been able to buy a (new to me) car when my other one broke down after 16 years of life, instead of having to bum off my parents for the use of their truck (which they are very, very generous with, but that's not the point). Do I think about money? Naturally. Do I worry far too amount and much too much about money almost everyday? Probably. Am I alone in either of these things, even remotely? Not by a long shot.

I'm not one to pine away for a spoiled rich life, living in a house with dozens of rooms and several brand new, high end cars. I don't care to have a yacht (though I'd totally love some Sea Doos... some day). Flashy jewelry doesn't really suit me; it clashes too much with my flashy personality.
I love nice jewelry, and even own a few pieces, but I wear the same rings and bracelet everyday, and I used to wear the same necklace everyday for nearly two years. I don't feel the need--or want--to show off to people in that way, and I'm actually way more turned off by people greedy for money than I could ever be turned on by what Mr. Trillionaire buys me. These things just aren't my style, and I hope they never really are. I love nice things, especially clothes and shoes, but I don't need a wardrobe that could leave me showing up to the next three years' events never wearing any same stitch of clothing; I wouldn't do it anyway. I appreciate money, and I respect what it means for society as a whole, but I'm not a slave to it, and I plan to keep it that way. The fact of the matter is, of course, that money really does matter to most people in the world; oftentimes, it holds more value to those people than family, friends, name it. It is for those people--the ones who so clearly don't get what is important at all--that I most feel sorry. Between losing friends over business deals and getting constant requests for handouts, that life made so rich by cash and changes turns out to be so poor in the things that matter most. I mean, what's the point of having a yacht if there's nobody to enjoy it with you? What kind of loser needs a yacht when nobody wants to talk to him or cuddle with him or anything. Yay for you and your giant boat...I'll be over here talking to real people and being what used to be called "social". It is unfathomable to me what it would feel like to not laugh (almost) every single day, to squeal with joy for a friend's good fortune, hold their hand (literally or metaphorically) when life becomes (hopefully briefly) unbearable, have debates and learn new things...basically, I don't ever want to think of a world or a life where my amazing friends aren't there forever (well, as forever as it can). I miss GPS, and Ole Miss is rooted in my heart causing an intense drive to get back there to live, but I'm no longer afraid of what new adventures and risk taking will bring; the friends who have known and loved me for years are the first ones in line to cheer me on during my triumphs and behind me to catch me if I fall. My bookstore friends have joined these ranks as well, and in June I will CELEBRATE 3 years there.

So no, it is not an easy decision for me to make, and I won't even let myself think of how much of a mess I'll be when (and if!) the time comes to bid adieu to my wonderful job. Even as I know I've formed forever friendships, and built up good references professionally along the way, and even though I know time and distance do little to destroy strong friendships like mine, the leaving won't be any easier. I'm fully aware of this--I just choose to think of other things at the moment. It's months away at the earliest, and time goes by fast enough without me speeding it along with my thoughts.

Sometimes, I feel like I have far too much responsibility AND restrictions at age 25, this is life. Money can be a real bitch, and I'm becoming more and more convinced that the economy will never, ever be anywhere near "fixed", at least not in my lifetime. This is not to say that I'm all la-de-da about finances; in fact, I'm anything but that. When my store didn't make percentage last week--and I very nearly doubled service leader with over a 6%, so WTF?--I could have totally sworn actual steam was pouring from my hours for a couple of hours. Because for so many of my coworkers, especially the young ones, the amount of money I'm losing out on every time that happens (and worse, cumulatively) doesn't seem to be within their realm of understanding--or caring. But when I lost out of just under $100 of extra money in my account because they don't feel the need to push for such things as discount cards, or my family Christmas for that matter. The thing is, I'm glad we are a little less tough on mess ups and blips in performance than we used to be, but 3 years ago when I started (after the 3 month probation period), I got a write up for missing percentage 2 weeks in a row. Again, I think that may have been a little harsh and too early in my career for that...but I'd gladly trade that for now. People don't make percentage for weeks, and since much of the blame is deflected to me as head of ATR and I try to use constructive criticism to make positive changes when it does, they continue to perform like that--and get worse and worse, most times--because they have nothing to be afraid of. I always hated the idea of write ups, until I realized their importance to the store--and company--as a whole (as long as it becomes constructive and not suicidal inducing). A team should work together--and more importantly, WANT to work together. A write up isn't always terrible, and it doesn't mean you're on your way to the unemployment office. Much of the time, it really means we like you enough to want to give you ways to change the problem, so that you can stay rather than losing you as an employee. So, I guess...write ups for serial offenders and disastrous occurrences and not all the time, but write ups need to come back. My GM is incredibly fair and respectful of everybody. Nowadays with the obvious difference standards (especially for register people who both want and can work ) , or criterion rather, for being a successful employee, everybody should realize that if the GM has to give you a write up, it's because you slacked off on what you should be doing; family medical problems and the like are handled very differently and almost always honored if at all possible.

Plus, I'm sick of cleaning up other people's mess first thing in the morning, and somtimes having to do reshop too, all while always being the one to stock everything and also, you know, WAIT OF PEOPLE. One of the primary reasons I created the register communication log back in the summer was to ensure this time of year would go as smoothly as possible...or people could just ignore it, not make percentage, and never seem to make the connection between the two. Believe it or not, I know a thing or two about the registers--after nearly 3 years, moving up to register specialist, taking care of the ATR and oftentimes saving the store from percentage doom--there are few things I can't handle or understand register wise. So how hard is it to just do a few things I ask? We get paid the same amount to do VASTLY different jobs, so get your head in the game a little. At least I know that my bosses and my bosses' boss truly feel awful when I don't get my money because of others--and they relish in the times when I do, especially getting to write me a bonus!--and they know I work very, very hard at every aspect of every job I do there; that acknowledgement and gratitude really does go pretty far. And, if everybody helped out up at the register a little each shift, nobody (let's be honest--me) will have to completely gut and reorganize the registers every month or so, and everything will be easier to find! Plus, I'll be nicer, which may seem like a very benign issue--but none of them have seen me truly pissed off before--at least not while they are there--and they are working their way to seeing that side of me pretty rapidly.

But of course, because it's me, I still love these people. I care for the individual first and a corporation later; I just wish others felt--or would act--the same way. Those of my work friends who do not fall into this category have been godsends and every day become more wonderful in my eyes, and we all help each other out as equally as we possibly can. Of course, all of us who do truly care seem to have matching cases of OCD, which helps (and gets annoying as hell) for organizing and making things work smoothly and effectively a great deal--and also gives us the opportunity to show off our organizational masterpieces with others whose level of OCD-ness allows them to totally appreciate every beautiful fixture, endcap, register, cafe, etc. Baby OCD for the win!

Alright, enough with my soap box! I do love my job, and adore the people in my life. I'm also pretty fond of sleep, so I'm going to go get some of that before I head back into work in the morning.