Usually I do not use real names or places in my stories; I tend to keep things as anonymous as possible. However, when I showed this post to my wonderful boss Christine a few months ago, her happiness and excitement was so overwhelming that she showed this story to everyone she could. I am proud to share this story once again, giving her ownership to the wonderful experiences she has lent me over the last five years of working with her.
Furthermore, the store that Christine was manager of closed as of January 31, 2015. I am not sad to leave the concrete floored building- I am sad to leave the wonderful woman whom I got to grow up with over the past years. I am sad that Christine and many other women have lost their jobs, and I am sad I will not be spending my weekends gossiping, laughing, and dancing with those women. To those who have experienced something similar, I hope the new places you go and the new people you meet will bring a smile to your face. Nothing can replace a past feeling, not even a new routine. But there is always hope in something new.
Without further ado, a few memories from a five year engagement:
Christine was, without a doubt, the best boss I have ever had. By now I’ve been under the rule of quite a few stern hands. Power over people, even the slightest bit, can be exhausting to handle. But somehow, no matter how tired or frustrated she got, Christine never let her temper get the best of her. She always remained cool, honest, and even when a little tired, content.
When I first started working for Christine, I was standoffish. I thought that there were strict rules when it came to boss-employee relationships, and in my naivety, I strove to be the best at maintaining such boundaries. Within my first week at work, the staff had a Christmas party, and although I tried to make excuses not to go (I wasn’t really into talking to people I didn’t know at the time), Christine persuaded me to join her. After our long Saturday shift, we drove to the party.
Before I go any further, may I just say that Christine makes the most amazing Swedish meatballs I have ever had? I just don’t want that fact to get lost in the story. Meatballs. AMAZING.
The staff had a potluck that night, my first experience with Christine’s Swedish meatballs. It would not be my last. But this isn’t about me. So I won’t explain to you my shock at seeing my boss chug a beer (I was underage and this was my first time seeing anybody, let along my boss, chug a beer), or the host (I had just met her that night) down at least 40 jello shots. The more I think about it, the funnier it is. For me, this was the beginning, but for these girls who had been working with each other for years, this was yet another Christmas party together, another chance to laugh and blow off steam. I felt as though I had been let into a secret world of stories I had never imagined existed, of behaviours I knew couldn’t possibly be allowed on those concrete floors. After that night, I became more and more interested in my bosses story. How did she get to where she is? Did she ever try anything different? Why did she tell me of her dream to be a fitness guru instead of quitting her job and becoming one? These are the kinds of questions I have long stopped asking. They are problematic, and they do not offer empathy to the millions of answers that lay before us in the struggle to obtain money to live. They were naïve. And now I know why.
Lesson number one in life: money is everything.
I will share with you one story in particular that helped define her life and impact my ideas of reality. It is a tiny snippet of Christine’s life. She told me once that she married her high school sweetheart, and she even brought in a picture to show us at work. It was so adorable; they reminded me of Ellen DeGeneres’ prom picture! Christine had a big pouffe dress and they posed romantically under a starry night background. She told me that her husband used to write letters to her, used to chase her for her adoration. They stayed together in part due to the devotion he showed her, and the result of their marriage was a beautiful baby boy. Flash forward to today with all the expenses of a house, car, kid and single income, and I realized how impossible it would be to pick up and switch careers amidst all the baggage (albeit good baggage) of life. This was the answer to my question from before: she and her family needed money, and they needed it now. Hearing her say that was always unsettling to me. But now I know that perhaps I didn’t like to hear it because I lived in a fantasy world where passion overrode money. It is true that passion is an essential part of a person’s life and work, and that it can bring happiness. But even though Christine, a University educated mom, does not have the job she dreamed of, she finds happiness in the job she has and she makes it work every single day. Christine’s perseverance is inspirational to me.
You don’t always get what you want. But hopefully, if life is kind to you, you will have enough good fortune to get what you need.
Spot the meatballs! 😉