I still remember the time all of my coworkers were arrested. No really. I was 18, fresh out of high school, and working for a little jewelry counter in Sam’s Club. My manager had recently quit. Well, she told the higher ups it was maternity leave, but let all of us know she was not coming back.
When I showed up to work on a midsummer afternoon, I was welcomed to a startling site: the police had surrounded our jewelry counter. They had all of my coworkers in handcuffs. They hauled them away as I approached, not bothering to offer me any sort of explanation. As I stood at the counter, mortified and perplexed, the phone rang. It was the district manager. She congratulated me on my new promotion – I was now the manager of the jewelry counter. No training would be provided. Mainly because the counters were being sold back to Sam’s Club in less than a year, so they didn’t really care. I would be given a raise and free reign to do whatever I pleased. My coworkers? Oh, they were involved in some sort of credit card fraud scheme. I never heard from them again.
I took a look at our sales chart: our monthly sales average was 40% below goal. A quick glance around the counter, albeit a very large square counter, was enough to tell me the place was in a serious need of a makeover. I had no employees. But I had two things on my side: I was the first student in HBUHSD to graduate with an expertise in business, and I earned a certificate of distinction from the center of international business and communication studies. That had to count for something, right?
Well, I got right to work. See, I made a decision that afternoon. If I was going out, I was going out swinging. So I made some calls to other jewelry counters and asked if they had some employees to spare from time to time. I made arrangements and I’ll never forget the two people who came by.
The first was a girl who was slightly older than me, engaged, and one of the nicest people I had ever met. The second was an older, heavy set woman from Glendale. Even to this day, when I hear that city’s name, I think of her. You see, she taught me more about business than all my years of high school and at CIBACS. She taught me visual marketing, proper customer service, and the art of selling a product. But she also taught me how to pour my passion into the work I do, to enjoy whatever it is that I am doing, and to take pride in my work.
I ended up convincing two Sam’s Club employees to work for me at the counter. Over the next seven months we crushed our monthly sales goal. In fact, we crushed the annual goal. It was as such a miraculous transformation, and I thank God for it, that the regional manager not only gave me a raise, but then she awarded me employee of the year.
Yes, the counter was still sold back to Sam’s Club. And to Sam’s Club credit, they offered me a job. Over the months I had turned a lot of heads and earned a ton of respect. But I declined. My work was done there, a new season was on the horizon for me, and I felt I had left it in a better spot than when I had arrived. It’s a philosophy I would carry with me my entire life.