Friday, May 30, 2014

10 Things I've learned from my Summer job

Yes, I know, this photo has nothing to do with summer jobs, as I am not a farmer... This is a great looking head of cauliflower though, isn't it? 
     The summer after my freshman year of university, I applied to possibly a million local places, just to find a job to fill the three month-long void of school until mid- August. I had turned 18 just before my freshman semester began, which increased the number of places to which I could apply to (I had a very hard time finding any kind of job before I turned 18). I eventually heard back from the huge clothing retail store that I have now worked at for the past three summers. 
     When I first began working, I was always nervous to deal with both customers and new co-workers. There was also a lot of new skills and lingo that I had to pick up quickly, as well as the knowledge of EXACTLY WHERE EVERY ITEM OF CLOTHING WAS PLACED IN THE ENTIRE STORE, since customers expect sales associates to be able to pinpoint the specific pair of high-waisted shorts that they had seen in another one of the chain's stores, two weeks ago. Have I mentioned that my store is the size of a department store, and that people of all ages flock to it, since it sells a wide variety of clothes for cheap prices?
Well, without further ado, here are 10 things that I have learned from my summer retail job:
1. There are some very very rude people on this Earth who will find you, even when you are hiding in the most desolate part of the store. The will not smile, they will not ask nicely, and they will not say "thank you."
2. Sometimes you have to put on a smile and be very very nice and very very patient with these very very rude people. Just remember that you are being paid to do so. 
3. I now appreciate the art of a good fold (SANS folding board, thank you very much). 
4. Customers seem to go out of their ways to mess up tables that you have just immaculately folded, and knock all hanging clothes to the ground as they pass by... it is really a sight to behold. This is my mandala. 
5. Life really is just one big game of memory... whether it is remembering exactly where that light pink maxi-skirt is hiding since it is the last one in the store and a thirteen year old is in dire need of it, to remembering who exactly asked you to find the technicolor dream harem pants.
6. Do not mix work and gossip... It will never end well. 
7. Keep calm and carry on even if it is Saturday afternoon, and you are the only one working in the fitting room (doing a three-person job) and a large group of middle-school girls just walked in, each carrying bags heaped with bright clothes and all you can whisper is "six at a time" with eyes like a deer in the headlights. 
8. Every shift that is worked is equivalent to a certain amount of money and the amount of money that I make in a hectic eight hour shift, can be gone in just one 30 minute trip to the grocery store... or on a pair of socks from Anthropologie. 
9. I do not make enough money to live on at this job, and luckily, I do not pay rent, I am not supporting a family, and I do not need to take on another job... but the fact is that some people do. When I am finished working an 8 hour shift, I go home and rest; I put my feet up and watch some Netflix... but I know that some of my co-workers who I spent my last shift with will have to go to their other jobs in just a few hours. I have a lot of respect for them. 
10. This is not my career... I will do not have to do this for the rest of my life, and I am so thankful for that.   
     Although I am not overly fond of my job, I am very glad to have had the opportunity to work with people at a retail job. It has been a very humbling experience... I am paid to be at the service of other people who usually do not appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into maintaining the layout and cleanliness of the store. It has taught me a lot about the human race, and I have also learned a lot about myself (and made some spending money while at it). I now know what it means to work hard, and the value of each hour of work that I do. This job has given me a taste of the real world, and I honestly think that every person should experience working a summer job whether in retail, food industries, or stock. 

“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.”- Buddha

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

More adventures await

     I have been done with my junior year of university for a few weeks now. I'm back in my hometown, but not for long because I will soon be embarking on a new and much needed adventure to.........
     After a stressful semester which included the complication of a badly sprained ankle, coming home and jumping right in to working my retail job, as well as beginning research for my senior projects, and handling some major changes in my life, I'm just about ready to swim across the Atlantic Ocean, just for the change of scenery and the rush that I get from exploring new places. 
    I have to wait just a few weeks now, and I am just keeping my eyes on the prize. I will be visiting and touring a bunch of cities in Spain, a few places in Portugal and I am very excited to be making a daytrip to Morocco. Then, I will be able to say that I have been to Africa! After touring these places, I will be studying abroad for a month in Madrid, the capital of Spain. The summer semester will help me knock out the final few requirements for my Spanish major and I am hoping that I will gain some confidence with my Spanish skills. I have known how to speak Spanish for my entire life, and I understand basically everything that is said to me, but I have always been shy with using my Spanish with native speakers. I will have to get used to the Spanish (from Spain) accent, because I know that it is different from Latin-American Spanish, which is what I have grown up with. 
     In Spain, there the z sounds more like a "th" and I know that there are other colloquialisms that I will have to learn. My Spanish professor will be giving us quizzes on these, so I have to start studying and practicing them. I will be sure to pack some index cards for scholarly attempts.
     But let's get back to the fun part!
     My parents and I will be taking part in an abbreviated version of El Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James. We will be walking about one hundred kilometers (or around sixty miles) in five days. The entire pilgrimage is about six hundred kilometers and takes a few months to complete. One of the most popular routes begins in the Pyrenees Mountains in France. The trail goes all along the North of Spain to the city of Santiago, where St. James is buried. Each pilgrim's Camino ends at the Church in the center of town. 
     Now, normally, pilgrims bring all that they will be needing for their trips in backpacks that they carry with them, and they also stay in hostels, or refugios along the way... my parents and I will not be doing this (but maybe in the future I will go back to do el Camino in its totality).
     I had begun to prepare for this trip during last semester... I was determined, dedicated to going to the gym and working out, and I was in great shape however, I sprained my ankle while bouldering, which set me back a lot. I was on crutches for a few weeks, and even a month and a half later, my ankle is still weak. I am really hoping that I will make it through the one hundred kilometers that we will be walking.   
Here are some photos of me bouldering... moments before I jumped down and landed badly on my ankle... I still had a great time with friends, regardless of a busted ankle!
     I will be updating this blog a lot more often, now that I have something to blog about! Have you ever done anything like El Camino? Do you have any tips for me?
Feel free to follow to keep up with me on my trip and for more information on my travels.
If you would like to learn more about El Camino de Santiago, click here.