I am fortunate enough to have a guest blogger to do the heavy lifting for me today. Thank goodness, b/c the Shorties are out of school and are on me like white on popcorn. She did a fabulous job and I am excited to share it with you. Rock on, Olive!!
Hi, I’m Olive Oyl, and I’m Mrs. Mulder’s cousin. Last time I saw her, Pumpkin Pie was just a teeny baby, and now he has graduated preschool! But we got to know each other over facebook, and I think she is just the BEST (Editor’s note: Back atcha, sistah!). So when I had the opportunity to write a guest post, I only procrastinated on it for four months – such is the depth of my admiration!
I loved the post about manners a few weeks ago, possibly because I love, love, LOVE a good snark, and also because I think Cloud 8 has a point: treating other people well is more about a few guiding principles than it is about following a bunch of prissy, self-righteous rules. To demonstrate how this works, I’ll tell a story about an orange Tootsie Pop.
But first, some background. I went to the same college as Baby in Dirty Dancing and proceeded directly into a PhD program in English (Ed’s Note: So you could go work at an English company, of course. I did the same thing with Psychology). I wanted to be a professor when I grew up. Unfortunately, the graduate program I chose had less support than your grandma’s sports bra (Editor’s Note: Eeew.) and, after four years of struggling to learn under the “just throw ‘er in the deep end of the pool, she’ll probably figure it out before she drowns”
method of pedagogy, I chose to leave with my Master’s Degree and four years worth of Teaching Assistant experience of dubious actual market value. That meant finding another job ASAP in the midst of a hideous recession. And that, dear reader, is how I ended up as a temporary overnight employee at Bullseye during a store remodel.
I only intended to stay for the remodel. Instead, I ended up accepting a permanent position and worked more or less full time through the Christmas season, which is a hairy story for another day. I’m still there, though only one night a week now, because I did manage to find another part-time job in which I get to sit in a nice chair in front of a computer (Ed’s Note: And because working overnights is a total suck-fest that I swear gave me premature wrinkles and a nasty twitch).
Now, about the Tootsie Pops. There is one manager on the overnight at Bullseye who I’ll call the Candyman because he likes to give out candy, juice boxes, etc – I would have followed the man into battle after he handed out mini bottles of Sunny Delight on a particularly grueling night. One night about a month ago, he approached my team holding a bag of Tootsie Pops. Everyone squealed with glee at the prospect of free candy, but as I pawed through the bag, I saw that there were no orange Tootsie Pops left. Since all the other flavors are a waste of time, I politely declined, explaining that I only liked the orange ones. I went on with my night and forgot about the incident as I stocked ladies’ deodorant.
Last week my team was working on resetting the bottled juice aisle, which involved squatting down and groping for bottles of juice way at the back of the four-foot-deep shelves only to have to pick them up and get on a stepladder to move them to the top shelf. In other words, a huge pain in the tushie. I looked up and saw Candyman Manager coming towards me with a huge smile on his face. “Olive Oyl!” he said, brandishing a full bag of Tootsie Pops, “I had to come to you first to make sure you got an orange Tootsie Pop!” Instantly, my foul mood dissipated. This manager, who doesn’t even have to give us candy, let alone to remember what kind of candy a girl who only works one night a week likes, looked for me just so I could have first crack at the Tootsie Pops. “Here, take two!” he said. I was overjoyed and genuinely touched.
When I was a Teaching Assistant, we got no support from the people in charge (with the exception of my awesome teaching practicum teacher). ‘Management’ would make nonsensical demands based on their ‘theory’ of how the teaching of writing worked, but rarely connected with their employees to see if those demands had any impact on learning. The department was politically progressive and any number of professors could likely drone on for hours about labor issues in the abstract, but they were clueless about how human beings actually worked. Now, Bullseye is not a perfect employer, and I’m positive that there are stores out there with jerk managers (Editor’s Note: I think the word you are looking for is ‘jackhole’). But it was also the first job I ever had where I felt like I really mattered – that managers could be good at their jobs and also treat their employees like people instead of peons. That orange Tootsie Pop wasn’t just a welcome sugar rush in the middle of a boring and difficult task – it was an unforgettable reminder that treating people well doesn’t take a huge list of rules or a painstakingly overanalyzed theory. It just requires a pinch of empathy, a dash of thoughtfulness, and, just sometimes, a big ole’ bag of candy.
(Ed’s Last Note: I couldn’t let a post about Tootsies end without including this little ditty from my childhood. Remember Mr. Owl?)