Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It turns out that the difference between a lousy day and a good one can be co-workers. My first and second days in paint were spent with a couple of co-workers, neither of them teacher-types. Now, in all fairness, my supervisor is up to her ears in flooring stuff as we just lost one of our two flooring staff but her method if teaching doesn't fit well with my method of learning. Her sage words of advice can be summed up thus: "Take some time to walk around the dept reading labels. That's how I learned." And then, she left for the flooring dept.


The other staff person, also not teacher material, is quite quiet. She speaks only if necessary and, even then, comes across as having little confidence in what she's saying. I would get tiny snippets of 'how-to' and 'where.' I'm a touch dynamic by nature and neither of these ways of learning were even close to active enough for my brain.

I spent the day making sure the prices in our computers matched up with the bin label and sticker prices. I made sure that products were lined up with their correct shelf labels. I tinted a couple of gallons of paint... I did learn, but had no idea how much. I needed to be able to ask questions. I needed to learn more, not wander aimlessly, practising what I already knew. The days were long and I felt totally useless.

On day three my salvation walked in. In this case, it took the form of a down to earth, vibrant transplant from the UK. He's just as energetic of mind as am I. He welcomes me as I follow him around, learning from his dealings with customers. He showed me where we keep the overstock!!! Well, most of it. He gave me reasons why certain products were necessary, why the steadfast priming rules don't always apply and how to decided when to overlook them, and broke down the properties of specific products so it all made sense. I need the 'why,' not just the 'use.'

In that third shift I learned more than I had the two before. We even had plenty of head space to discuss spirituality, our 'past lives' and how we've become who we are, politics... It was so very awesome.

And this all brings us to my three-hours-by-myself-in-the-paint-dept-with-only-three-and-a-half-days-worth-of-experience shift, heh.

I won't lie. I was scared out of my mind. All my usual crutches (read: staff members who continuously bail my ass out when I have no idea the answer to a customer question) were gone and I knew I was likely facing three hours without a break. I've gotten kind of used to having a breather ever two hours. In fact, I have relied on it!

Well, I did it. I was overwhelmed a time or two and I made decisions and moved forward - without help. It was painfully quiet so I had quality time with the customers who did come in. I worked it out. When I couldn't work it out, I used the phone numbers that were left for me. I was calm. I tinted five gallons and two quarts of paint, helped a couple with their stain/varnish issue, found the right product for use with polystyrene... It was amazing.

And, suddenly, I quite love my job. I mean, to the point where I've decided to work part time even if my percolating ideas come to fruition.

I always find it amusing when my whole outlook changes,pendulum-like, in less than 12 hours.


BeeDancer said...

First, congrtulations on yuor accomplishments...You're getting the hang of things and it sounds like you've made great progress.

It's funny that you write about co-workers. I'm in a 7-person office so we all know each other pretty well. Our boss gives us a great deal of freedom which most of take can handle. but there's one-isn't there always one-who takes advantage of this. She takes off far more days than we're allowed, and if the boss leaves the office she's gone. he left for a while this afternoon a little and at 4:15 she was gone. we're hoping he comes back and asks where she is. It is a situation that creates resentment and bad feelings and in an office this small that's not easy to deal with.

Not The Rockefellers said...

I'm so proud of you. Really, I am. You just had to know that you could do it. But the only way to know that is to do it. I know that sounds like motivational speaker crap but it's true. Now let me return to my van down by the river...

OK so if you don't get that reference and your a bit weirded out let me 'splain...

Chris Farley had a sketch on SNL wayy back in the 1990's it was called "Matt Foley Motivational Speaker" and it was damn hilarious you could probably google it. But yeah, this is where it came from and this explanation is becoming tiresome.

Peace - Rene

Beth said...

Thank you both! My mother said to me, after a few weeks of work, that I always did well when I didn't have a choice about it. It doesn't sound nearly as funny here as it did that night but I guess you have to know me and my Mom.