My blog is about the scenic, stressful, spectacular life (and everything screwy in between) of a
California girl turned expat transplanted to the land down under: North Queensland, Australia.

October 13, 2010

Day 12.

This question is a pretty easy one to answer:

Day 12: Something you never get compliments on.

For most of my twenties, work was my life. Let me rephrase that a little: work was my life in the jobs I stayed with and enjoyed. That list is small, but when I found somewhere that I felt semi-confident or semi-belonged, work became my passion. Everyone who ever walked into my store I cared about, whether you were the customer, the part-time employee, the delivery person, the boss, or the president of the company.

When I worked as an ice cream scooper at 16, I worked like I was the boss there. When the other kids would work, they would usually clean to a minimum and stock empty ice creams (if that). When it was cold or rained, I would take the huge ice cream containers out and scrape the thick parts of ice out of the machines and use polish on the metal to get it shiny. I would go into the below zero freezer and alphabetize the ice creams so they would be easier to find on busier days. I would keep a list of items that needed to be replenished for the next ordering date. Not once did I get anything other than a “thanks” (if that).

As a bingo caller, I would spend the first two hours chatting up the seniors and regulars. Doing this was important not only for the business (gaining regulars and hearing their ideas), but for the seniors themselves (seeing a friendly face every day). It would break my heart if I heard someone passed away, and I made sure that everyone was comfortable (even if every day one person would be too hot, another too cold; it was too smoky; I was too quiet or too loud…). On my birthday I received a card from a regular with $50 in it, yet the whole time I was there did my boss say anything worth merit about my job performance.

I loved, I mean adored the clothing store I worked at. Working there was like a golden age for me. Because it was all girls, people constantly gossiped and made little groups, and I always felt like the outcast. But as a manager, I think I did a good job (when I wasn’t sick, which I admit was often). I welcomed the customers and went out of my way to help them. I was constantly organizing the backroom or making sure the prices were correct on clearance. When the manager quit, myself and the other assistant were told we would be co-managing until we got another manager. A month into this arrangement I was notified that the other manager would be the only interim manager. I was crushed.

The restaurant was a very stressful job for me, but I wanted to prove to everyone around me and also myself that I could handle ten hour days with thirty minute breaks. I loved my staff, and always tried my damndest to make sure that every customer left happy and satisfied. There were a lot of behind the scenes actions that left me defeated and wondering why I tried so hard, and the staff themselves made me once again feel like an outcast at times. If they only knew how important this was to me, I would think to myself. Even on the day before my wedding I called the store to see if everything was okay and how business was, and I was out-of-state at the time! If I ever got anything, it was “Hed, you’re doing fine. Just focus on…”.

I’m convinced I will never manage again. I don’t have it in me anymore, and it makes me sad for a few reasons. One, the reason I got into managing was because the people over the years that trained me really helped me and my work ethics. I always wanted to give the people with me as their first manager a good head on their shoulders because I know how much that fuelled (damn those two “l”s)me. Secondly, I choose places that I would enjoy working, or places that I would want to see prosper, and I don’t know enough about the Australian workplace to really feel comfortable enough to manage. Lastly, I was never told that I was an asset. Or a hard worker. Or a good addition to the team. Towards the end of my last job my depression was eating away at me that I became a liability, and my confidence was eradicated. I made sure every day to tell my staff they were awesome in one part of their job (even if it was something so minute as sidework) because deep down, that’s what I wanted someone to tell me.


  1. Sounds like when you like something you love it and go with it! That is awesome, not a lot of people are brave enough to manage. Don't worry the manager is usually the outcast.


  2. Sounds to me like we could write a book on management together. You sound exactly like me in your management style. It is true it would be nice to hear 'good job' once in awhile but as long as I knew I was giving my all and the results were visible that was enough for me. This world is full of takers. Big bosses included. And not enough givers (like us). But you know something Hed, you and I would give 110% whether we were trash collectors or Senior VP's of a company. It's what's been instilled in us. You are awesome sweetie.

  3. Management is threatened by bright underlings. remember they have to keep you down to keep their own jobs. Reality bites but there it is pretty much. The answer is get your own business. Doesn't matter what it is, unless you are the lead dog the scenery never changes. One of these days you'll have to take stock of what you can and can't do with your health issues and then decide where to row your boat from there. Personally, I think something to do with writing and the internet would be perfect. Put you intention out there and let the universe answer! Love you, hugs, Auntie R