It always seems like everyone else has better days than you do, right!? Well do not deny it because I have that attitude most of the time. The truth is we all have rough patches in our lives, but not the same as others. We also become blind to what others have issues with, especially if it does not come close to our problems by our standards. It may sound selfish, but I consider it more blinded by hard times.
The Harder Times Make the Hard Times a Little Softer
I could go on and on and tell you the story of my life, but I am not. I am going to tell you of two times it has been hard for me. One was about five years ago and the other is in the present.
The Past is the Past, but Also a Lesson for Later
When it goes wrong when we try to move forward in life, maybe it is a warning by God we need to stop and observe what we need. I am going a little further back than when it all came crumbling down. I want to explain why I was where I was.
Inspiration to Move Forward
It was about eight years ago, after I came out of a slump, I got a job at Long John Silver’s. I was looking for a job that I would enjoy and could be a permanent job. About six years before that I was trained as a Team Leader at Burger King, promoted by my Assistant Manager, and really enjoyed it. It gave me a meaning in life. I enjoyed helping customers, running shifts, taking care of cash, and doing inventory. The main problem when working in fast food is the paycheck. So I decided to go for General Manager down the line. I was going to college at ITT Technical Institution for Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD). I was not doing well in my sixth quarter and it was the time I got promoted. My GM wanted more dedication. I had already considered dropping out for the quarter and this seemed to be a conformation. I dropped out and went full time. I was hoping to go back the next quarter but never did. I got into financial troubles and called my mother, then moved back to my parents. I was young and could not take chances. I should have handled my money better, handled my time better, and hung around better people. I look back and I have learned what to do and not to do. One thing I did learn is that friends are important. It is not about money, or fashion, or what kind of car they drive. A friend is about the time they give you, the sharing between both of you, and the advice you share. Kindness goes a long way.
Two Steps Back Three Steps Forward
When I came home I got a reference from a Store Manager at Weis I worked at before I went full time at Burger King. He requested a position in my area and a store did need what I had experience in. So they said they would take me, but wanted to interview me first. So the day after I got to my parents’ home I went in to Weis, the one in the bad part of town, and got my interview. The Store Manager liked me and officially rehired me on. He had me in both areas I worked in before which were the deli and cashier. He also got me trained in stocking shelves. I was there for a little over a year and then had a conflict with a black male customer who was accusing me of being racist and sexist because I waited on a white male before a black female. I was not out at the counter when the customers came up I was bring out more product to stock up the deli for in the mourning. When I got out and put things away I asked, “Who is next?’. the white male
said, “I am ready.” So I took his order. Irony is the black female had no problems with it, probably did not even decide what she wanted; but the black male started a conflict and it escalated to the point he wanted to go outside and fight. I was reported to my Store Manager and I was terminated. I understood why, but was a little aggravated a jerk like that can get a person fired for doing their job and in fear for their life. My Manager did say he was taking care of the customer and would not allow him back in the store. That did ease me some, but the damage was done. After that it was two years until I found my next job. This is the job that has messed me up and given me fear of losing the job I have now. I did learn something though, I will get to that. What I did learn from Weis is there are always idiots out there just don’t be one of them.
When One Door Opens Another Door Closes
It was two years until I found my next full-time job. I had on and off jobs like temp-jobs, paper routes, delivered phone books, and even helped people out. Almost six months before I lost my job I had gotten an apartment and made a best friend. We are still friends today and we both have had it rough. When I lost my job I was two months away from the end of my lease. So I had to talk to my landlord. I told her I had enough for the next month but won’t have enough for the following. Since I am going to have to move I asked her to keep the security deposit. She did and I was grateful. I did get on cash assistance to help with bills and food. I could not find a permanent job and I was so depressed I was ready to give it all up. I figured it was time to meet my maker. Then one day I applied at Long John Silver’s. I did not apply there before that because I did not like fish. I included a cover letter and resume with my application. The reason was because they were looking for management at the time and that is what I wanted. I got a call within a month I submitted my application. The shift manager, which later became my shift manager trainer, interviewed me and she liked me. I got a second interview with the Restaurant Manager. I was nervous when I met him, but we clicked right away. I told him what I felt and wanted to do. I also told him I realize there are steps to get to being a manager and I am willing to take them. He knew I would do what I needed to do to be a great manager like he was. He wanted me, but since he was hiring me with the intent of promotion he had his boss the Regional Manager interview me. I had no fear. I went in with confidence. I got the job no problem. The Regional Manager was an inspiration as well. There were three managers I had that I learned a lot from. My Senior Shift Manager, who was the one who first interviewed me, was always happy. She taught me do not show your bad side when you are at work, especially the leader. My General Manager taught me you get more bees with honey than salt. He was always nice even when you got in trouble. He did not pull you outside and give you a lecture with a stern dictating voice, unlike the Assistant Manager. I had times when he raised his voice to me and talked a little more firm, but he was like getting lectured by a teacher not the principal. Then there was my Area Manager. He was good leader and always tried to stop by every few months and during Lent he stopped by every week. He humbled himself and stepped in and helped the crew, helped the customers, helped the managers. I had even seen him take out the trash and clean the bathroom before. I always wondered what makes you a good leader. Is it being firm and strong or is it by leading by example and humility? Well I learned from him humility is a great asset to being a great leader. It takes some firmness too. When we had manger meetings he attended he stood strong and spoke with a firm voice when he was teaching us. When he was answering questions or having a general conversation on topic he had a lighter voice. He was a good boss, good leader, and a good example to whom we all should follow. My General Manager was transferred to a new co-brand store of A&W/LJS. So the Assistant Manager was promoted before he left. I was also promoted a few months before he left to Shift Manager. I was trained primary to close and sometime do swing shifts, but not to open. My Shift Manager that trained me was leaving due to graduating college and getting a career started. Well my new General Manager set it up to get me fired. She approved the only two other shift managers time off. She had to schedule me for open the restaurant and She came in closing due to end of the month inventory. The only time I ever open is on a Sunday and did not have to run the deposit. Well this was a weekday and I forgot the deposit, did my inventory for the morning which I did have to do, and did not send employees on break at the right time. I was appropriately trained. I only worked one weekday for training on opening. My purpose was closing. The time off should have not been approved. I got demoted and I lost my desire to be a leader anymore. I had to leave. When I did find my next job I left without giving notice, but I did leave a long note and sent an email to the Area Manager. A couple years later I went by and saw that “she” was not there at the time so I went in to get some chicken and lobster bites. I asked where she was and I heard she got fired. I wonder if my email had something to do with it. Did her boss keep an eye on her, did customers complain, or did more employees complain. Whatever reason he fired her was he best choice. I did learn from Long John Silver’s that I could be more than just a cashier. I also learned there is more in a leader than just telling people what to do, you need to show them. Lead by example. Teamwork is what makes us successful without teamwork then the team will break away. We all make mistakes we need to learn and move on. Also there are times when our road comes to and end, but there is always a choice on where to go. Choices we make make an impact on what we have later down the road. So make the right one the first time because they are all one way. We don’t have a remote control like on Click where you can rewind and fast forward life. You have to deal with the choices you make so make the right one, the first time.
A Leap of Faith
I found my new job from my best friend‘s father. He worked in factory that made medical stoppers and he worked twelve hour shifts. He got overtime almost every week. The way the schedule went we only worked 180 days. We got a week of for the Fourth of July and Christmas due to cleaning the clean rooms. It was not a horrible job, but the big shots did not care about their employees. We would have an extreme amount of work, but never have help because the overtime would not be approved, they would not hire an additional person to keep product moving, they expected 200% out of everyone, and when the slackers did not do what was expected then the supervisor would be blamed. The last one I really did not like. It is immoral, unethical to blame a supervisor for how an employee acts. If the employee will not do their job then the supervisor needs to make aware they need to improve, then verbal warning, then written warning and eventually termination. If the supervisor does all this they are doing their job. I had a manager get fired for doing his job. He supposedly should have sent someone home not just wrote them up. I lost all desire of becoming a supervisor after that. The job I had was weighing up medical stoppers and packing them off. There was two of us and two rooms. There were nights that one of us was in one room and the other in the other room. We did weigh up and pack off for ourselves. We could have had an extra person too. On dayshift they did have a third person. When dayshift came in they would complain when we still had boxes left on the belt. I guess teamwork is overrated there. While I was there I graduated college online and started a business. My business did not get off the ground before I got fired for forgetting to follow an everyday procedure. The reason I forgot the procedure is because a few months prior I had something similar to a stroke, but did not show the signs after of a stroke. What it did cause was short term memory issues. I had fear of forgetting something. I did go back and got re-trained on dayshift. Then after I went back to nights I forgot to follow procedure like I did every night. When they called me in on my day off I knew something was up. They showed me the video and I could not believe it. I told them I did not remember that. I explained I was still having some memory issues and evidently forgot. They did not believe me and fired me. I was so angry it took all I had morally, ethically, and spiritually to hold back from taking a swing. When I went home and told my mother all she could say is “How can you pay your bills?”. During the time of my unemployment I was so depressed the thought of suicide but did not act. I did not have any support until one day I decided to go back to church. I went to the church I knew. It was the church that ran the school I graduated from. I got support from a good friend, my pastor, and others in the church. It gave me a ray of hope. I went back out looking for work. I got a temp job that was temp to hire. I liked the job, learning a lot. It seemed like I would never be hired. My supervisor at that time wanted me hired on so she went to whomever she had to. Within a week she got me hired. My paycheck went up and I got seventeen days of vacation just like that. Today I am still there and I like the job, but am concerned it will not last much longer.
Renewed and Reborn: Out of the Ashes Rises the Mighty Phoenix
Now today I have a job that I like. I want to stay but am unsure. I learned from previous jobs and life events trust is earned not given. I have been really tight on money and am concerned about working too much. I do not want to have another stroke and maybe die from it or forget something and lose my job again. I need to plan ahead and set several options on how to survive. It is like on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when he says, “Life is like a box of chocolate you never know what you are going to get.”. Well I think he is right but sometimes it seems more like grenades not chocolate. Life is not easy and I do not think it will get easier. We just need to accept what we have at the time, be grateful for what is good, and be mindful of how to prevent and fix the bad things.
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