I closed the cashier drawer for the last time yesterday evening.
For the last 6 months, I’ve been working part-time (although sometimes it definitely felt like full-time) at a natural foods grocery store in my hometown. I took the job back in August, when the prospect of graduate school applications and a year “off” at home seemed a lot more likely.
Now, none of that’s the case. I decided in November that I needed more time to determine what it is that I want out of both my professional and personal endeavors — and so the grocery store job continued, while I decided whether to stay in Columbus or make the move to somewhere like D.C.
This was my first foray into a “people-person” job, and it taught me an immense amount of interpersonal and conflict-resolution skills. For years, I cocooned myself in academic and highly theoretical jobs, where my mind was constantly stimulated and I (felt I) had to prove my worth at all times. Even my NSLC summers had me surrounded by highly motivated, highly competitive individuals, eager to learn and willing to give 100 percent all day long.
This job was simpler. I had a few everyday tasks, with the expectation to “show up” to work, and that was it. Don’t get me wrong, it was stressful — serving people who are already agitated can be a burden on a people-pleaser like me — and there was always some “What the hell?!” story I would tell my parents on the daily.
And while the job in its last two months was keeping me from exploring other creative, professional, and personal opportunities, it definitely had its rewards. First and foremost, I met my boyfriend and light of my life on lucky Lane 5 during my second day of work; we’ve been together for going on 6 months now. I made friends with what I’d like to believe was every worker in the store — older, younger, and in between — for no reason other than we both were in the same place at the same time.
I learned a lot about why people work, and understood on a very personal level that sometimes the current job you hold may be the best job for you right now. I learned about patience, I learned about value, and I now understand the power of small, meaningful moments of kindness.
This job, I’d like to believe, grounded me in my own community. It got me out of my head and into my own body (although I was about done with all the “physical” labor by the end…). I had favorite customers whom I saw regularly, customers who asked about my wellbeing and I think genuinely cared about my response.
I made myself more than just someone who is “smart,” and I’m grateful to have learned all that I have.
Now, it’s onwards and upwards from here.