Monday, August 8, 2011

Nostalgia Is A Bitch

     One thing that bums me out about working in retail is the number of people who quit, transfer, or get fired.  The last year or so, my store has gone through a number of changes in personnel and it still is odd to not see people there that I used to see all the time.  When you work in a job in the retail world you come to depend on friends to help cheer you up and help you make it through the day.  I don’t know where I’d be without those people who’ve become more than just coworkers.
     When I first started this job, I doubted that I would ever know more than the names of coworkers within my own department.  It really wasn’t even until the first several months or so had passed on that I began to recognize people from the opposite end of the store and associate names with them.  I just kept my head down, learned what I needed, and viewed everyone’s relationships at the store as an outsider.  I don’t know exactly when I began to feel like one of the crowd but a store that seemed quite large when I began seemed to shrink.  I knew most of the employees and began to joke around with even the new hires.  I had become part of the “team”.
     Of course, throughout my time at this job, I’ve had plenty of people come and go, but lately the people who’ve left have been the ones that started at around the same time as myself.  I never thought that these people would move on before I did and seeing them leave for greener pastures has made me feel a bit left behind.  I always figured that I’d move on before others did; not that I thought I could find better faster than they could, but I just hoped it’d be me leaving them first so I could make a clean break with everyone at the same time.  I don’t know how much that made sense but I guess it’s like a relationship – I’d rather be the dumper than the dumpy (Dumpey? Dumpie? Oh, Microsoft Word, why do you let me down??).  Now, whenever I walk around the store, I can only picture and think about times I’ve shared with those no longer there.  While those memories always elicit a pleasant feeling, they also make me feel a bit sad.
     Switching gears here, let me focus on the workers who are there to replace those who left.  Whenever there’s a new hire, there’s the tiniest of pieces that I recognize in myself that just wants to say, “Damn, do I have to get to know them, too?  It’s so much work! Blah!”  I’ve come to the conclusion that thanks to the turnover rates in the retail world, I try not to form attachments to people who have been at my store for less than 4 months.  At that 4-month point, I’ll take the chance and bother to learn your name instead of calling you “boss” and start having more meaningful conversations.  I’m sorry but my heart just can’t take more pain!  You understand, of course.
     I think the toughest part of it all is the fact that I most likely won’t see much of them outside of work.  This will most likely be true despite how much I get along with those people who’ve moved on.  Sure, we’ll always have online social networking and the occasional get-together, but that’s not the same and everyone knows that the promise of “We’ll have to stay in touch” is generally a lie 90% of the time.  Not that that’s anyone’s fault, necessarily; it’s just a way of life in the fast-paced 21st Century.  We’re too busy with the day-to-day events of our lives to try and set aside time for people.
     Perhaps that’s just a bullshit answer but I’m amazed how quickly a day goes by.  I guess I’m just getting old.  I can’t get as much done in a day as I once could and the first to get cut in my laziness are my friendships.  That makes me feel bad but I just want to set aside this entry to those of my coworkers, nay, friends who’ve left recently and say that I have appreciated the time we’ve had together.  Not that any of you will ever come across this entry, but you all meant a lot for my sanity!  I hope to stay in contact with you all for many years to come.  You’re banter, dancing, singing, and random acts of kindness prove that good things are in your future.  Karma will not forget every smile you bring to those you work with.
     Conversely, customers, karma will also not forget every pissy comment you say to employees making barely more than minimum wage.  Just a fair warning there for you.
     More soon from the frontlines...