[This is an entry in my project to write something every day in the 100 days before my retirement, reflecting on my career and life]
95 Days (or 12 more working Mondays) to go – with “Enthusiasm!”
May 28, 2018
I have been working full-time, without a break in employment or a regular pay cheque, for 45 years. (For clarification, I did take time off for the birth of three children, and it was while I was on maternity leave with my third child that I was actually out of a job, the only time I was officially unemployed in 45 years — but that’s the subject of another story.)
My first full-time job started in September 1974, a few weeks after my 19th birthday. For the most part, I have been an enthusiastic employee and genuinely look forward to going to work every day. I have been surrounded by wonderful co-workers, managers from whom I have learned, and I have worked at companies that have kept me engaged. Sure, there have been times when I haven’t been quite as enthralled with my job, but I have always tried to remember that I work for the company, it doesn’t work for me.
My commitment to being an enthusiastic employee started with my first part-time job at the movie theatre on a Canadian military base in Baden, Germany. I was 16 and thrilled when the manager of the theatre, John Edmonds, hired me. He was a very large, stout and florid British gentleman who managed the theatre operation. I arrived for my first shift, with enthusiasm plastered all over my face, and met John in his office where I was asked to sit while he explained my job. At this point, I was sure he was going to give me the goods on making popcorn, pouring Coke, and making change, because I had assumed I was hired to work in the snack bar. Wrong.
John had a new idea, one he had seen in operation for many years in the movie theatres in England and I was just the person to put it into action (he said all of this with, yes, enthusiasm). Selling ice cream, in the theatre, before the movie started. With a tray strapped around my neck full of ice cream treats.
“No need to yell out to the patrons that you’re selling,” he assured me, “just walk up and down the aisles. The customers will quickly get the idea. f this works out, we might have you sell chocolate bars and other things.” He was keen. He was excited – well, as excited as a British gentleman can get.
I was devastated. Embarrassed. I really wanted to wear a pink smock and work behind the counter, dishing out popcorn, crisps (British for potato chips), and Coke. Not walk around the theatre selling goods to my friends and their families. But I did it. And I was embarrassed. Not devastated though — he did let me wear a pink smock. I strapped on that tray every night and walked up and down the aisles selling ice cream bars and sales were great. And no one laughed at me. And they all appreciated the service. And John was thrilled with the sales efforts. After my first couple of shifts, I tackled that job like my life depended on it, and was able to sell more ice cream than John had originally thought. Eventually, I was promoted to the snack bar.
The added bonus for John and the theatre occurred on Saturdays when I doubled as the local sheriff, selling ice cream in the theatre and keeping the kids in line during the matinees, when normally all hell would break loose at the mid-point of the movie. You see, this is where my past experience as a Birthday Party Organizer, Girl Guide, and daughter of a Regimental Sergeant-Major came in handy.
I really believe that it was this job that helped me with my life-long attitude of not worrying about what work I was asked to do. I decided then and continue today, doing my job happily, and to the best of my ability.