Five Lessons I Learned Working Retail

Written By: Kim - Feb• 12•13

Like many of you, I worked through college. It was part-time work, but it paid for something that I would otherwise not have had: my car. My parents were not in a financial position to purchase a car for me when I graduated from high school. I could either bum rides (we lived in a small town and there was no public transportation) or I could work. I chose to work.

©Sarah Jay courtesy of stock.xchng

©Sarah Jay courtesy of stock.xchng

I learned many lessons during those years, but here are the most important ones.

1. You are never to good to (fill in the blank). If the work is honest and you need the job, you will do it. Stocking shelves, cleaning toilets, stomaching rude customers, taking out the trash, running boring reports – nothing is beneath you when you have financial commitments. And, once you become the boss, don’t ever ask someone who works for you to do a task you won’t do.

2. Hard work gets noticed. The truly great bosses I have worked for watch employees and staff with precision. They notice a lot more than we think they do. If you are working hard and smart, they notice.

3. Never, ever think that a “blue collar” job is beneath you. While talents and skill sets vary between industries, anyone who is a good worker is priceless. It doesn’t matter if you are making $10 per hour or $2,000 per hour. Do your job well, people notice and you become an asset to your organization.

4. Just because someone seems to be at a crossroad doesn’t mean they wish to stay there. Everyone has dreams. When you met someone in your life, they may be on the path to their dream. They may not have named or claimed their dream or they may have just realized it. People come in to our lives and either offer us an experience or a lesson. Learn from them all.

5. Never judge someone by their clothes. The richest people in my hometown were the peanut farmers who wore jeans, overalls and hats to the store.

Don’t get me wrong: working retail through college was a great career motivator. Working nights and weekends, which is pretty common for college kids, sucks. Standing on your feet during your entire shift is definitely motivation for a desk job. But, I would not have traded my experience for anything. So if you have children, please encourage them to work a part-time job. The lessons you learn as a young adult will carry you through your life.

Almalfi, Money and Armpits

Written By: Kim - Aug• 21•11

At my urging, we headed to the town of Almalfi. Since we cannot seem to get out of the villa before 11 am, we boarded an already crowded SITA bus. There does not seem to be any other kind of bus here.

Connor, Josef & Abby at the Almalfi Beach. This local came to our rescue. ©Mike Howard

When we finally made it to Almalif town center and we got off the bus, my daughter asked, “Did you see that girl’s pits?” Abby had just been introduced to the European method of female hair removal: It is optional. I chuckled and explained that it is common in some cultures. My American kid was not amused.

There were several public beach front options here, so we picked one right in front of an eatery. Since we did not intend to stay all day nor rent a beach chair, Mike and I sat by one of the deck tables. It was not crowded and we were not taking up space for a paying customer.

A few minutes later, the owner figured out that the kids were hitting the beach, he came over with a waitress and asked if we wanted to order. He did not ask us to leave or rent a beach chair, so we stayed. Since we had already eaten, we ordered a water. It never arrived.

The table next to us clearly had three regular patrons who were quite animated with their conversation. They consumed a traditional Almalfi meal: fried sardines, bread, white wine and mozzarella. I wish we had understood the language because they were a fun bunch. The kids enjoyed the water in Almalfi because it was warmer than previous locations and the rock beach consisted of smaller rocks so the wading in was much easier. We stayed about two hours. The kids changed in to dry clothes and we proceeded to leave. But not without the drama.

The owner asked us about paying for the mineral water. We said it never arrived. He said, “no, you had the water.” An argument quickly ensued. He then threatened to call someone if we did not pay.

Joseph, the regular sitting next to us spoke up and confirmed our story. As he did, the owner also confirmed with the waitress that we never received the bottled water. We also never received an apology. All of this for over a €2 bottle of water.

After we toured the marina and marveled over some extremely big yachts, we headed for a

Abby climbs the steps of the cathederal in Almalfi Town Center. ©Mike Howard

canoli and a cappuccino at the town center. There was a lovely cathedral that had amazing front of mosaics decorating the front facade. Connor and I hit the shops for some goodies to take home for everyone at the office and something for Abby. The salesgirl who helped us was “hot” as my 13 year-old son said. But, she was wearing a sleeveless dress and as Connor said, “I’m not in to ‘optional’ hair removal.”

Back on the SITA bus we went, standing room only. Again. The tight spaces in which drivers must maneuver in Italy continued to amaze us. We had a new respect the bus drivers, but the other drivers are simply rude. A “me first” attitude continued to prevail. Why don’t people in any country learn that the biggest rig on the road has the right away?

We had dinner at a restraunt we had been eying from our balcony. We were one of three patrons since we arrived around 7 pm. The first server was attentive. The last two were awful. Here, most of the servers could care less.

I really miss American customer service.