Posted on December 5, 2014
Better than I thought I could be
I was a pretty damn lucky kid.
From the day I was born, my parents paid into a trust fund for my post-secondary education. Whenever the time came for me to choose a college or university, my only worry was making sure I chose a field I would actually enjoy studying. There was a bit of paperwork to fill out and faxes to be sent to and from the Registrar’s Office at STU, but when I eventually chose Journalism as a major, everything was pretty much paid for.
Because of this, I didn’t feel pressure from my folks to get a job while I was still in high school. I had friends working at restaurants and big box retail stores, and although they were making good money, they’d sometimes show up to class absolutely exhausted. My grades were only decent as it was, and I didn’t need anything to hinder them any further.
In the spring of ’02 after writing my last exam of the year (at university – I graduated high school in ’01), I decided that being 18 without anything noteworthy on my resume was not good at all. I applied at a few different places and landed a couple interviews, but being new to that process, I was nervous and stutter-ey enough that I didn’t get a call back from any of them.
I started my second year that fall, and it wasn’t long afterwards that I managed to snag a job at the liquor store in uptown Fredericton. I learned pretty quickly that having a job is a lot of work (duh), and that working 8:30AM to 10PM shifts was as hard on the head as it was on my feet and back.
Working on a regular basis was quite the wake-up call. I went from being a lazy kid who lived at home to being a young adult who had responsibilities. Crazy!
Six months into it, I was getting into a pretty good rhythm. I was well-trained, did a good job (I thought, anyway), got along well with my co-workers, and even decided to take a year off from STU to save money before going back a year later.
On one Saturday morning, I went to work feeling particularly good. It was nice and sunny, and my shift was only from 11AM to 7PM. This allowed me to sleep in in the morning then get home in plenty of time for that night’s NASCAR race in Charlotte, NC.
Almost immediately as I walked into the store, one of the assistant managers called me into the office with a serious look on his face… I was going to be asked to work an extra three hours until 10PM. I just knew it.
I had to put my foot down, though; I had some serious plans!
I took a seat and was promptly told that a fellow employee’s father had unexpectedly passed away, and that she was out for the day. I’m not sure how, but I was the only guy available to cover the time she was out.
Now, if you were to put me in this situation at 31, I would have said “yes” in a heartbeat. At 19, however, I had to “think about it”.
I went to the lunch room for a bit and mulled over missing at least the first part of the race, the very thought of which made me grumpy. I then thought about what the other person must be going through with the loss of her father, which made me feel awful about playing hardball at a time like this… I then walked back to the office and agreed to work until closing time.
It was a decision I wasn’t happy about, but at the same time, I knew deep down it was the only sensible decision for me to make. Having the job was evidently changing me more than I thought it would.
Back in the office, the “atta boy’s” and “thank you’s” I got from my superiors only made me feel marginally better. I decided to treat myself to a bit of retail therapy on my supper break, so I went to Zellers next door and bought myself a frickin’ Xbox.
I picked up Enter the Matrix and Star Wars: Obi Wan to go along with the pack-in duo of Jet Set Radio Future and Sega GT 2002. When I got home that night, I was torn between unpacking my new toy and watching the race… then this happened.
My favourite driver making enemies by spinning them out made my decision to stop watching the race a whole lot easier. I hooked up the Xbox and games well into Sunday morning, and I kept playing it the rest of the week as well… I could get used to this “making mature, adult decisions” thing.