07. Broken

I can’t count how many people I’ve met over the past decade that have worked or are working in the retail industry who are bitter, grumpy, or just plain hateful. That’s a bit of a harsh opening statement, but I say that to myself because it’s been more and more infrequently that I am reminded of those many years I had to endure that same experience. I can’t really disrespect a business that can start and make its way to national (or international) status, multi-million (or billion) dollar revenues and more. But I want to share my particular experience, and a little bit of Hannah’s, with a national Christian retail chain that recently announced it is suddenly closing all of their stores.

Hundreds of pieces of books, gifts, decor and more. Every day. For this, I would get yelled at. My perfectionist organizational nature challenged everything.

As I’ve said before, we are followers of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible, so there is no surprise that my wife and I, in times where we needed to take whatever job we could find, both found ourselves at different times applying for a cashier position with this company. I originally took the job as a cashier myself and shortly after starting, was moved into a lower management position in Inventory Control. It was great in the sense that I was being given more responsibility, but at the same time, I had already begun dreaming so hard of the entrepreneur life. I must say, however, that I never did have this notion that being an entrepreneur was going to yield a lush harvest of privilege and security. Yes, I would likely be able to afford myself more travel and the ability to provide more for my family over time, but I wasn’t under the illusion that it was going to be an overnight rags-to-riches story.

I worked as diligently as I could possibly work and yet, I still seemed to get into trouble. Granted, my manager was really strange and had an occasional temper that I only ever saw come out on me. I wasn’t the type of guy who was careless and legitimately got into trouble because I wasn’t trying. I was busting my butt. I mean, in hindsight, I recognize that I have a tendency to question the status quo, processes, and policies. I was never vindictive or rebellious (OK, maybe a few times out of spite), but I definitely didn’t deserve someone who literally spewed spit out of his mouth in epic proportions when he yelled in my face. I developed a sense of bitterness over time and began to stop putting forth the effort.

As a company, we partnered with a nonprofit (one of the largest humanitarian relief organizations in the world) who offered child sponsorships for around $35 per month. My employer had a policy that all sales floor staff, which was still part of my responsibilities, had to meet a quota of child sponsorships received from customers per week in order to get more hours on the schedule. For example, a customer would be presented with the opportunity every time they shopped (even the many regular, weekly customers that we all knew by name) to pick a child a start a sponsorship commitment. If a customer chose to do this, they would simply provide their billing info and be sent their first bill in the mail. The caveat was that “if you sponsor a child through our store, you get a $25 gift certificate to use here.”

I found out not too long into my time there that the nonprofit relief organization gives this company $100 for every child that is sponsored through our stores. I was immediately appalled by the fact that my employer would profit off of this organization instead of letting them keep that money for their mission. I’m not saying all of this to get political or controversial. We have enough of that these days. I just wanted to point out the fact that I stopped caring at that point about the job I was in and began dreaming that much harder about the dream I wanted to live. I still came into work everyday and did what I was told. I still kept a smile on my face when things got boring or miserable. I just knew that every day that I left work, I was one day closer to walking away from that life and towards the life of pursuing my passion.

What job did you most dread going to everyday?

Thanks for checking in and we’ll talk again soon!

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” ~Steve Jobs




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