“It was sort of that in-between area when people don’t talk about their personal lives.” — Laura Innes
Yes I took that from a longer quote. But it works better out of context than in.
As you probably know by now, I was terminated from my last job almost eight months ago. I was a cashier at a gas station, which also entailed making food, ordering cigarettes, and sometimes dealing with drunken idiots. I loved my job. I loved going in and serving my regular customers, chatting about what their kids were doing at school, or what a patient did last night on their shift at the hospital, or whether or not to get satellite radio, or if they should leave their girlfriend, or how busy the restaurant has been. I had been there for over two years when I was fired, almost half that time spent on third shift, from 10pm-6am, and had gotten onto a first-name basis with many of my regular clientele. Wayne and his 5-times-daily stops for black coffee and Marlboro menthols. Jen and her 4am breakfast burrito pitstops. Jared and Amy and Ashley stopping for food when the bar closed down for the night. And my vendors, Jim stopping to fuel his truck before making deliveries in the morning, Corey and Tanya stocking us up on snacks on opposite days. I could almost track my shift by when certain people came through my front doors, and there was absolutely nothing about that I didn’t love.
Were there bad parts? Yes. Any workplace has drawbacks. There were coworkers I didn’t like, policies I thought were stupid, interpersonal politics that were absurd and childish to say the least. But I had a lot of fun, a lot of good times, and found quite a few good people at that job, including my fabulous Catherine friend, who I still can’t go a day without talking to. (There was more than once that we worked for several weeks straight together, every night, and never once have we gotten into an argument or not had an absolute ball.) I also learned the importance of both keeping your head down and speaking up when something isn’t right. I gained a lot of confidence, which is hard not to do when you have customers blaming you left and right for every small thing wrong. I also came to understand the real value of work ethic, having to, more often than not, pick up other peoples’ messes and shortcomings, and still finding time to accomplish all of my tasks and then some. I put more off-the-clock time into that place than I would care to admit, in all honesty: scrubbing floors, organizing walk-in coolers, cleaning cold food storage, scouring pans, disassembling soda fountains and cappuccino machines and sweetener dispensers, and probably more. I single-handedly printed all the daily paperwork that kept my store running for more than six months.
In all the time I worked there, I never had one customer complaint, never let anyone (who didn’t deserve it) leave the store without being satisfied with what I had done to serve them, and probably understood more about how to keep the front end of the store running (including playing IT more than once) than our managers.
Basically, I was fired over petty stuff because, I am convinced, my manager felt threatened by me. It’s not worth discussing, really, because what’s done is done and I don’t have hard feelings about it anymore. In fact, I think there are only three people working there now who were there when I left, out of a crew of 8 or 9.
In fact, it may have worked out better for me than I knew at the time. Shortly thereafter, my mom started getting really sick, and she passed away two months after I lost my job. But that’s not something I’m going to talk about in this post.
The following months were a mess of bank accounts, social security representatives, insurance checks, lawyer visits, changes of billing names, court dates, and new locks. The majority of it is over, barring my reissued birth certificate and health insurance. (My dad finally adopted me after over 20 years, but the state is three months behind on updating birth records.)
The whole time I was applying for jobs whenever I saw a place was hiring, with little success. The job I was most interested in, which became available shortly after my termination from my previous place of employment, was a night desk clerk at a local hotel. I applied there in September, and never heard back, so I continued applying in other places. I had heard the basics of the job from several friends-of-friends who has worked for the same hotel in the past, and came to the conclusion that it was a position I would not only be good at, but enjoy thoroughly. The position reopened last month, and so I put another application in, with an attached resume. After a few weeks with no word from the management there, I made a call and was transferred to the director of the business, who informed me that they were in the process of “collecting applications” which were then being sent to individual managers of each aspect of the hotel – housekeeping, kitchen staff, etcetera – and that each of those managers would be making calls to applicants for interviews in the following weeks. That was last Friday.
Come Monday afternoon, I received a call from the desk manager to set up an interview, which was scheduled for Wednesday. I immediately texted Catherine, telling her about the development, because she was just as excited about the prospect of this job as I was.
“Guess who has an INTERVIEW”
“We need to coffee today because we need to discuss interview strategies”
And that’s exactly what we did that night. We discussed wording and how to turn negatives into positives, what aspects to stress, and even what to wear. When it was all said and done, I was confident.
“Here we go friend. I can do this lol”
I got to the interview about ten minutes early on Wednesday, smile on and professional demeanor in place, determined to make a good impression. The manager took me and my application to one of the tables in the lobby, where she asked me only about why I had left my last position. I told her the truth, and she seemed supportive when I explained the circumstances surrounding my termination. She gave me the basic job description, and told me they had had trouble keeping people in the overnight position because most can’t figure out how to handle having a schedule that works basically backward from the rest of the world. I stressed that I not only had experience working overnight shifts, but also preferred them to days. She told me she still had a few more interviews to conduct and she would get back to me. I shook her hand and thanked her for her time. All told, I was only there for ten minutes. (Unrelated to the interview, she also asked me about my grandfather, as her husband had worked with him in the past. We ended up having a brief discussion about my family history. You would be surprised how often this happens to me. #SmallTownThings)
“I really hope I get this job. I know I would do well at it and be an asset for them.”
“I hope that my interest in and experience with overnight shifts helps that decision.”
“I really want this job, friend.”
She never said exactly how many other people she would be talking with, or how long to expect to wait before hearing from her again, so I ballparked that it probably wouldn’t be until the following week. The next day I was talking to my dad about this exact thing when my phone rang, and the caller ID read that it was the same number that had called for my interview.
I got the job. I start on Wednesday.
And I am so outrageously excited I can’t even tell you.
“I GOT THE JOB”
“I start on Wednesday […] for training.”
“So friend. I will see you on Wednesday when I get off. 😉😉😉😊😊”
all blockquoted text are messages written by me to catherine