As I was about to pour my third glass of wine (at 6:50pm) I thought it may make good sense to write now. As opposed to
several additional glasses later. So here it goes.
When I was 17 years old I got a job at Dayton’s. Dayton’s was later bought out by Marshall Fields and later yet bought by Macy’s. Neither do the original store justice at all. Dayton’s was the most fabulous department store. People were friendly, helpful, allowed customers to return anything that wasn’t ripped or stained with blood or vomit. I worked in the Juniors Department and LOVED IT. The discount was amazing and I really liked working retail. My department was made up of a group of fabulous women. And by fabulous I mean the weirdest group of women ever. There were middle aged women working full-time at Dayton’s, women in their 20s who would relay their tales of drinking and dating professional football players every time I worked with them, women in their 30s who were only working nights and weekends when they weren’t at their “real job,” a couple women whose husbands worked full-time and they only worked a couple shifts a week to bring in extra money, and then me. The only high school kid in the department.
We were managed by the most stereotypical uptight gay man. He. Was. Fabulous. And he didn’t f-ck around. He was all business all the time. The hiring process back then was a challenge. I interviewed with HR, then had to come back for a group interview that included…wait for it…skits, then had yet another interview with HR. After I was hired, I ran over the mall one evening to complete my paperwork and to meet my manager for the first time. HR told me I’d work out my first schedule with him quick and then be on my way.
After completing my paperwork, I ran up to the Juniors Department, and the manager was in a different part of the store. I started chatting with a woman in her 20s, one who would soon be asking my advice on the trials and tribulations of dating professional football players (good idea…ask the 17 year-old for advice!), and she whispered “I bet he’ll make you work tonight.” I thought she was kidding. She HAD to be kidding. I wasn’t dressed for work, I was on my way to my boyfriend’s house for a date, and I most certainly had not been planning to stay. And why was she whispering? Sure enough, my new manager returned and brought me in back, handed me a packed schedule and showed me where to hang my jean jacket so I could get started. Right that minute.
He rode our a-ses. Dayton’s wasn’t like Macy’s is today. Dressing rooms were to remain SPOTLESS, people were to be approached and offered help within a certain amount of time of them entering the department, and we were to keep displays and tables folded immaculately at all times. The Gap had nothing on us back then.
We had a sale every few months called the 13 Hour Sale. They were infamous. We offered remarkable deals, had staff and volunteers running the floor like it was the stock exchange, and mobs of eager shoppers filled the store for all 13 hours of the sale. In our department, with our manager, it was completely controlled chaos. It was during one of these sales that he and I had the following conversation…
Manager: What are you doing?
Me: Taking a second to breathe.
Manager: Do you know anything about sharks?
Manager: Do you know what happens to sharks when they stop moving?
Manager: They die.
Manager: We are sharks in this department. We don’t stop moving.
Me: Or we die?
Needless to say, I hustled my a-s over to the wall of Girbaud jeans and started re-folding. Remember how in stores they were always folded to expose the front zipper and the Giraud label? Yeah…that fold was a pain in the a-s. But it took a lot of time and thus I would not be considered a shark that had stopped moving by my manager.
Over the past couple weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about my old manager, and Benjamin Franklin, and the need to simply keep moving. I’ve been trying to move, move, move at work in an effort to re-energize myself. This week a very (understatement of the year) large project was dropped in our lap at the same time that we learned that our annual goals for fiscal year 2013 which starts in July have increased by nearly 20%. TWENTY. PERCENT. Millions and millions and millions of dollars. Sweet Jesus. The very large project was supposed to be completed by end of business on Monday, but this morning we were informed it needed to be completed by noon tomorrow, which would be absolutely fine if I had…umm…at least STARTED the project. I spent about an hour panicking in my office and furiously printing reports I would need to get started. Finally, realizing there was no way in hell that I’d be able to get anything done IN the office, I packed up my files and my laptop and I high-tailed it to my home office.
I worked all afternoon and a realization started to form in my mind. Around 5:30 I decided wine would likely make this project a bunch more enjoyable. After consuming the dinner of champions…wine, crackers, cheese, and an apple…my slow realization turned into a full-blown epiphany. My organization is missing out on an incredible opportunity to increase revenue. It’s an area in which I don’t have a ton of experience, but if I explored it and started working on increasing revenue in that area, it would not only help my organization meet it’s goals but it would make me a more well-rounded professional in my field. Holy sh-t!
Okay, it’s *possible* this epiphany seems WAY more awesome to me in my wine-induced state.
I’ve lamented that I’m not happy where I am. I’ve been struggling to find something positive in what feels like a straight-up crazy work environment. Thus far, I’ve not been successful. Not until I started drinking while working was I able to find something that I could enthusiastically work on that would benefit both my employer and my overall professional growth. Which leads me to believe we should ALL be drinking at work.
I kid. Kind of.
Now, as I work to complete this project by noon tomorrow (is anyone aware of a real-life time machine that would allow me a teensy bit more time???), I have a focus. And I’m creating a work plan that I think will make an incredible difference in how we do business. And, dare I say it, I’m excited about it!
It could be the wine talking.
TODAY: What if when we keep moving we find new ideas to reinvigorate our passion for our work? What if we really can take the lemons in our lives and make lemonade? And seriously…what if we DID all drink at work? Every once and awhile? After four? I’m not sayin’ I’m just sayin’.