In 2010, the private school in which I had taught for 9 years abruptly closed. I loved my job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Along with my job, I lost insurance and security. I spent several months job hunting. Never in my life had I found it difficult to find a job, so I was not worried at first, but as the weeks went by I failed to find a job that paid enough to make it worth the gas to drive in. I slowly became resigned to the fate of having to work in retail. Selling cans of peas seemed like quite a step down from my previous career, and was embarrassing to admit to in conversation.
When I walked into the retail store on my first day of work, I made a decision. I decided that if I was going to have to sell peas and apples for my living, I was going to do the best job of selling and customer service that anyone could do. I decided that I would wear nice clothes and present myself to the community as someone who was happy to be doing what I was doing, and I would work harder than anyone else. If I had any negative feelings about what I was about to do, those feelings were dropped at the door each and every day.
I became the most reliable, hardest working person I could be. I was pleasant and friendly to everyone, no matter how I was feeling. It was physically demanding after so many years in a classroom, and there were days when I went out to my freezing car and fell fast asleep during my lunch hour.
Several weeks after I started, I heard a call for all available employees to attend a safety meeting. Not knowing what it was or if I was supposed to attend, I quickly finished what I had been doing and went to the meeting. A question was asked that I nervously answered, and as a result I was given an assignment. I took care of that assignment, and the following week reported what I had done. Because I had spoken up, accepted an assignment and followed through, I came to the attention of the managers who attended that meeting. Two weeks later, less than a month after being hired, I was called to the store manager’s office (a scary occurrence for a new employee), and offered the position of leader of the Safety Team. I had no idea what a safety team leader did, but I said “Yes”.
Over the next several years I was given additional opportunities, and became very effective as the safety representative in the store as well as the other jobs I was assigned to do. I became known as a hard worker, a role model to other employees (this store employs an average of 350 people), and someone who will get a job done when asked. I went out of my way to learn everything I could about my job, and became the person that many people approach to ask questions and get answers, or to report things they do not feel comfortable telling anyone else.
The benefits have been great. I was injured slipping on ice at home and had to take a leave of absence. When I was ready to return, the management went out of their way to be sure there was a spot that I could do successfully with the limitations I was under at the time. When I needed something, I received it.
Several years ago, I went through a difficult time. Working at the store became frustrating and I struggled to remain positive. After several months of wrestling in prayer I decided to quit my job and go be a stress-free nanny. When I told the store manager, he was disappointed in my decision, and encouraged me to work just one day a week at the store, taking care of the safety responsibilities. Technically, there is no position for someone just doing safety in this corporation, but he took a leap and figured out how to make it work. If I had not proven my worth over the previous years with hard and consistent work, that would have been the end of my employment there, losing the benefits as well.
It has worked out very well in the ensuing years. I still work part time at the store. They have cheerfully worked around my nanny schedules through the past several years. It is a secure feeling to know that if something happens and I need to go back full time, I have a secure position.
With two jobs, a service mission, family and church responsibilities, raising our own garden and meat animals, as well as the 14+ hours a week studying, the lessons I have learned about constantly working hard and smart to the best of my ability remains a priority. The benefits are worth the work.
I enjoy my work and my education opportunity. I make a difference in my occupation and other activities, and I feel respected and appreciated in all of my pursuits. The opportunities that have come to me have been a result of blessings, personal choices, hard work, willingness to go above and beyond the minimum required, and good attitudes.
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth
Teresita’s Story. The epitome of a hard worker, she obtaining a microloan, and was able to buy supplies in bulk to supplement the meager income of her husband. Click here to watch this short video (2:03)