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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let's Do The Job Change Again!!!

I'm opening up my diary to all of you today to let you all know of a brand new opportunity that is coming my way. A few of you already know what that is, but for those of you who are not aware, this entry should explain a few things, as well as what I think my strengths and weaknesses will be when it comes to that change.

June 27, 2013

I think that every single one of us has had years in which our heads have completely spun around trying to keep track of all of the changes that have presented themselves to us. Some of our most memorable years in our lives have been years in which we've experienced great change.

I may be a bit premature in making this declaration, but it's looking as if 2013 is going to be one of those memorable years, because once again, I'm going to be experiencing some great changes in my professional life.

As all of you who are regular readers of this blog probably know by now, I work retail. Do I see myself doing retail forever? No, I don't. Ultimately, I would love to make my love of writing into a full-time career, but this has not happened as of yet, so working retail is fine for now.

But this year has been one in which I've gone through quite a lot of shake-ups.

I started off the year in the dairy/frozen department – the same department where I spent the better part of several years. And, I'm sure that most of you have probably heard of some of the tales that I have told over the last few months about working in the dairy section. Tales of dodging produce, stocking egg nog, and kindly informing customers “please don't sit on our butter.”

It even inspired a parody of Barry Manilow's “Copacabana” entitled “No Tropicana”.

(I still have to figure out a way to bring my parody to YouTube without subjecting anyone to the horrors of my singing voice, as well as avoiding a lawsuit from Barry Manilow over bastardizing his song.)

But, right around April of this year, I learned that I was going to be transferred to a different department for the summer. And, since April 22, 2013 (appropriately enough, “Earth Day”), I have been in the seasonal department.

Yes, instead of selling people cartons of milk, I now sell them cans of insect spray. Instead of scrubbing the floors of the walk-in cooler, I now take a hose and water the various flowers, shrubs, and trees. And, instead of picking up fifty pound cases of butter, I am now loading upwards of fifty bags of twenty-two litre bags of topsoil into people's cars.

And, you know what? I'm okay with that.

I'll be completely honest. Would going over to the garden centre area have been my first choice? Absolutely not. I was going into the garden centre area not knowing a bloody thing about gardening at all. I couldn't tell you what a perennial flower was. I couldn't tell you which plants required part-sun, and which plants required full sun. And, as far as telling you which cords go with which weed-eater? You may as well have asked me the question in Japanese, as I would not have been able to tell you the right answer.

But now? What a difference three months makes!

Certainly, I wouldn't have chosen garden centre willingly. But ultimately, it was a learning experience. That's the way I see every opportunity that comes across my way. I see everything as a learning experience in hopes that everything that happens to me happened for a reason.

And, let me tell you, the first few weeks in the Garden Centre were a total shock to the system, let me tell you.

I mean, granted...the lifting of bags of soil, cedar mulch, stones, sand, salt for water purification, and the excrement of sheep, cows, and shrimp was not difficult for me. Anyone who was capable of lifting heavy items could do it. Same deal with loading up lawnmowers, barbecues, gazebos, and patio sets. As long as the customers had a vehicle in which we could easily slide the boxes in, everything was easy-peasy. And, even if they didn't, taking them out of the box was always an option (even though on a personal level, I would prefer not having to do that).

But again, there were some new aspects to the job that I had to learn that I was incredibly apprehensive about. For one, I had to develop a little bit of knowledge about the products that I was selling. I didn't always have the right answers to give to customers, and in my first couple of days, I had absolutely no idea where anything was or what the products actually did.

(Here's a tip for anyone entering a brand new job. Never assume you know everything about anything. Instead, ask for help.)

Truth be told, a lot of the things that I learned in the garden centre, I learned from standing out in the soil compound. When I wasn't loading gardening supplies into people's vehicles or working on my tan (speaking of which, my skin has never been this bronze...ever), I was spending the first couple of weeks of my seasonal stint reading the back of all the soil packages. I wanted to do this so that I had a better idea of what to tell customers who were just as clueless about gardening as I was, and the last thing that I wanted to do was mislead someone into buying a product that they didn't need. I learned all about what Moisture Control soil did. I could tell the difference between soil for hanging baskets and soil for lawn care (prior to going to seasonal, I didn't think there WAS a difference). And, I learned just what compost and manure worked best from customer input.

(Case in point. Sheep manure outsold cow manure by a 2:1 margin at my store, and red cedar mulch is clearly the most popular colour sold.)

And, perhaps the most interesting thing for me to overcome was my apprehension towards running a register. I'm not going to lie to you. My first week and a half on cash, I made a LOT of mistakes. But, you know what, I think almost all of us have done the same. We've all accidentally given customers back the wrong change, and I'm sure that anyone who has worked cash might make the register crash every now and then. But, that's all part and parcel of learning a new skill. And, considering that I only learned how to work a register a month ago, I'd say that I've gotten it down pat. Is there still more that I have to learn? You bet there is. But am I afraid of the register? Not at all.

Which is good, considering that when I wrap up my gig in the seasonal department next week, I'll be heading off to a location that does not involve cheese, butter, ice cream, and milk.

Effective July 6, I will be moving to my third department in less than a year! But, don't worry. I'm incredibly optimistic about this new area of the store.

I have a really ironic story to tell you first before I reveal where I am going to spend the next little bit of my career. When I was first hired at my current workplace, there was a section of my job interview that was asked to every new applicant at the time. I still remember that question clear as a bell, even though it's been a while since I was a brand new employee there.

The question was...”if you could pick three areas of the store that you would love to work in, which three areas would you choose?”

Amusingly, one of the choices I picked was the candy department. I mean, I have an insatiable craving for sweets at any given time of the day, and I probably know every candy creation ever created. The only thing that would have been bad was that I would have gotten hungry stocking the displays of Mars Bars, Butterfingers, and Skittles.

Another department that I said that I wanted to work in was the craft department, just because I was (and still am) an artsy kind of guy. Art class was one of my favourite classes in school, and when I was a kid, my toys in the toy box gathered dust while I played with sheets of construction paper, a bottle of Elmer's glue, and Laurentian brand pencil crayons. If anyone needed any assistance with finding the perfect pen, wanting to know which brand of construction paper was the most durable, and which markers last the longest (I recommend the Mr. Sketch brand ones myself), I was definitely your expert.

And, the third choice ironically enough happens to be where my new work home is going to be!

When I was applying for a job at my workplace, there was a part of me that was hoping that I would end up in electronics. It was a department that I certainly knew a lot about. I mean, let's face it. I run a blog on pop culture, and electronics is literally the pop culture capital of the entire department store. When it comes down to helping someone find a particular CD of an artist, or recommending a particular video game to someone, or being able to find a movie just based on the plot description, that sort of stuff comes naturally to me. And, besides, electronics is a department in which you are always constantly doing something constructive. I would hate to be in an area where I am sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

So, to be told that I am going to be transferred to a department that I actually wanted to be in eight and a half years ago is a fantastic opportunity for me, and I am fully embracing it with arms wide open. The staff in the department seems like an incredibly hard-working bunch, I have product knowledge on most things in there (well, maybe not so much the knowledge of how to set up a new television or computer, but I'll learn), and I'm really looking forward to the next chapter in my life.

And, then I think to myself...had it not been for my experience in seasonal, I probably would not have been placed in that department at all. I mean, for electronics, you most certainly have got to be cash trained. And, I am now!

But more importantly, I probably wouldn't be so gung-ho about moving to a new department had I not had the opportunity to move before this happened. I spent seven years on the food side, and I'll be honest with all of you...while I had a blast over there and met some very interesting people...I've come to the conclusion that seven years was long enough. I needed this opportunity to come around so that I could feel refreshed again, and so I could look forward to even more opportunities. I guess I was getting stuck in a rut for a while, and I needed to have this happen in order for me to start feeling good about myself again.

Not that I didn't beforehand...I did.

But, I gotta tell you...this opportunity to work in a department that I secretly wanted to be a part of...I'd be lying if I told you that I wasn't a tad bit excited about it. I've been reassured by people that they think that I will be a good fit for the area, and I'm really looking forward to hanging around my peeps Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, and Sonic.

Right now, the only thing that I'm fearing is the Black Friday sales and the Boxing Day bonanza...but hey, the way I see it, if I can get through those two days, the rest will be a cinch, right?

Just gotta stay positive. Good things will happen to those who wait. And, soon enough, they'll be calling my number and I'll be next in line for a great future.

Well, one can hope, anyway.

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