Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'd like to thank the Academy.

Day 4: how you think your life would change if you achieved your dream.
[Note: I just got done writing for today and where I ended up has ZERO to do with this question. ZERO.]

This is my Academy Award acceptance speech.  I have no idea what category I won. I just picked the Oscars because it's too hard to explain what life would be like in Mad Men.

Oh my gosh, I can't believe I won! Reaaaalllly! Okay, simpering over.

Seriously, though, there are some people I'd like to thank.  First off, I'd like to thank my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Krueger. She gave me a worksheet one day, one of those color-the-word things?  It was to teach you the difference between then and than.  I didn't do it right, and she told me I was stupid. Apparently, the fact that I needed an extra worksheet to keep me occupied in kindergarten was outweighed by the fact that I did the extra worksheet wrong.  But, thank you, because I've never messed those up again.

I'd also like to thank my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Tobias. He taught me two things that I use nearly every single day.  
     1: When you are doing multiplication, substitute the word "of" for the "x" sign. So if you need to know what percent one number is of another, you can sound it out in words.  
     2: When you are dividing fractions, remember this: "Ours is not the reason why. Just invert, and multiply."  Brilliant.
He taught me many other awesome things as well, but those two are the ones that seem to come up the most often.

I'd like to thank the retail industry. Why retail? Well, working in retail for ten years taught me the value of being nice to people, even when you don't want to be. You bet I complained about assholes after they walked away. But I'm fairly sure that there are very few customers out there that actually knew I thought they were an asshole *before* they walked away.  

I'd like to thank retail for another reason. Working in retail is a shitty job, no matter whether you're front of the house, back of the house, wherever. It's demanding, it pays for crap and you usually end up with at least one person a day who seems to think that because you're behind the counter and they're in front of it, they've been given a higher grade on the report card of life.  And that taught me an important lesson. Because the best five years of my worklife were spent in a store with some of my favorite people. And we loved that place. We put our hearts and souls into that place. When it closed, I put a sticker on my car from that store, even though I hadn't worked there for 10 years.  

So it taught me to value everyone's position, no matter where they work or what they do. A co-worker told me today that a lady walked through my day job (yes, even though I've won this amazing award, I do still have my day job) and said to the people in her group that our student center "used to be" a cool place, but now it's not.  Now, I'm not going to argue that point with her--for one thing, according to her description, if she's an alumna, I'm surprised the building was there. I'm surprised bricks existed when she came through. But you can't argue with a statement like that. Nothing you say can change that kind of opinion.

What I will take issue with, and what I will kindly remind her and everyone else is this: when you think a place sucks or is a failure, when you think you know how it ought to have been changed, when you think you've got it all figured out--congratulations. But consider that someone standing behind you might have an investment in the thing you're tearing down. Consider that you don't know the whole story. Consider that inferring loudly in the middle of a building that its staff aren't doing its job, that making a sweeping pronouncement for all to hear is not the most constructive way to convey that thought. 

I worked in two locations of that store I mentioned before. The second location was a hot mess. Inventory was all screwed up, leadership had been close to non-existent and the facility was in dire need of improvement. When I first got there, I hated that place. I burned out hot and fast working there, and left pretty quickly after arriving. But you know what I remember about that place?  The staff LOVED that place. LOVED IT. And to hear people talking shit about it killed them--even when it was valid shit-talking.  

So, members of the Academy, thank you for your award. It's a real validation of my awesomeness and I appreciate it.  But please, the next time you want to bitch about my student center, do it somewhere that my colleague can't hear you.  She's worked too hard to be hurt by your thoughtlessness.

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