Confession: I love working retail. I’ve worked various retail jobs on and off over the past 25 years. I’ve been the brand new teenage clerk who messes up your transaction four times, and the experienced manager who works magic to help deliver an impossible to find gift just in the nick of time. I don’t always love the hours, but I do love working with people.
Each retail transaction is a snippet of a story. Over time, those snippets turn into a rich tapestry as you intersect a person’s life for a handful of moments. There’s the comic book writer who I struck up a friendship with over DVDs. Each week he would walk in looking for something new. Each week it was a challenge to find something that he’d enjoy watching.
There’s the little boy who came into the store with his mother. She was frantic to get holiday pictures printed in time for Christmas cards. He was frantic to touch everything in sight. I ended up spending 30 minutes carrying him around the store, helping customers and keeping him distracted. After that, he thought I was the coolest person in the world. His mom agreed. For several years I got Christmas gifts from them. I’ve still got an ornament that hangs on my tree.
There’s the angry woman who wanted hundreds of pictures scanned to digital media in a short time. I told her it wasn’t possible. She stubbornly insisted that it be done. I sucked up my irritation and came in early for a week to get the scans done. When she came to pick them up she broke down in tears. She had terminal cancer and this was her last Christmas with her family.
There’s the woman I sold a camera to so she could go to Russia and take pictures of her new son. Years later I’m watching him grow into a handsome young man.
With each interaction, I have been blessed to touch someone and make a small change in his life. That’s a wonderful gift, and it’s something to be cherished.