Friday, January 7, 2011

Why I Love My Job

Yesterday was the Feast of the Epiphany, Christmas Day for Eastern Orthodox Christian churches, or for the Western churches the day on which the Three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem, and Jesus was revealed to the world as the Son of God. January 6th is therefore the Twelfth Day of Christmas with 12 Drummers Drumming being quite a lively announcement.

Aside from the manifestation of a deity meaning, defines Epiphany as:
"a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience."

I've been working at Michaels Arts and Crafts store for 7 months now, going in for two or three shifts a week. My very recent epiphany is that I love my job there. I'm surprised because this is not my first foray into the world of retail. As a school leaver I worked at Grace Brothers part time  - a department store like Macy's. I worked at the Information Desk at the Broadway flagship store and that was fun, and then I worked in Men's Knitwear at Bondi Junctions and that was appallingly dull. Dreadful. Dreary. Monotonous. Luckily I got a theater job and was able to quit.

Now I have come to realize that it wasn't retail itself that was the problem - it was the department.

Working at Michaels fills me with joy - just walking into the store makes me start smiling. But why?

First of all, I constantly receive positive validation from the customers. To my own surprise I know tons more about almost every craft that Michaels covers than I realized I knew. A shallowish but expansively broad sea of knowledge with a few deep sinkholes. I find I can help just about everyone who needs it - and some people really need it. I get to share my knowledge with people who really do want to hear what I have to say, and are grateful for my suggestions.

Second, working at Michaels is a nice workplace environment. The management is flexible about schedules, and at least at my store, very involved and present. They encourage self-development, reward good work, are gentle over mistakes. I have a special dispensation on cashiering. I don't do it, won't ever do it, can't be made to do it. That's another story.

The other associates are lovely, likeable people, each and every one fun and creative. We workers have a huge amount of autonomy. We see what needs to be done and just do it - recovery, go backs. There is never a moment when I feel bored. On the contrary, my shifts fly by regardless of length.

The store itself is a delight. There is always some new product to discover, new materials, more old favorites; the fact is that as a customer I would wander these aisles just for fun. For a crafter, it's like being paid to hang out in a beautiful garden with your friends while music plays in the distance.

Finally I realize that this job, even "closing" - that is to say restoring the store to a functional and tidy appearance after store hours in preparation for the next day - fulfils my liking for neatness, "a place for everything, everything in its place", that my sadly overstuffed home does not permit. I did not realize how much I craved order, ever unattainable at home, until I was in a position to experience it on the grand scale of a well recovered store.

I'm so grateful to be here. To be helping and being of service, to be learning, to be getting paid something at least, for the staff discount, for the opportunity to have epiphanies and share them.

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