Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Parting Gifts

My first job was working at the Albertson's grocery store down the street from my parents house. I spent two years as a bagger and two years as a cashier. When I decided to move to Orlando I knew I was making the right decision but it was tough to leave some of the coworkers I had become close to. Before I left I made them some illustrations as my way of showing them that I valued our time together.

Jackie did the accounting for the store. She was smart, did her job very well, and always cut to the chase. She didn't spent a lot of time in frivolous conversation because she was so efficient with her tasks. She only spent time talking with people with whom she respected. Since I started out as a bagger she had no reason to respect me, so she hardly ever spoke to me. However, I was a consistent and friendly worker and I won her over in time. Once I became a cashier I was one of her favorites. She would rave about how my bills were always organized and my coupon pouch was immaculate. I was proud of my friendship with Jackie because I knew that I had earned her respect. I made her this illustration:

This illustration (a photocopy of the original) was as meticulous as her work style. I was nervous about giving it to her because I didn't know how she would react to it. When she told me that she loved it, with that rare smile reaching across her face, I knew that she meant it. 

Dan, another coworker, was one of the baggers and probably the person I worked with the most. He was very shy at first but once we got to know each other we became a solid team. All the other baggers at our store were either teenage boys or older men. I was the only girl and Dan was a bit of square peg in a round hole because I think he might have had a slight mental handicap. He did his job better than the other baggers and had a great sense of humor so I never asked him about it. I never wanted to insult him or make him feel like less of a person because I thought so highly of him. 

We were the two misfit baggers who did our job better than all the other guys. We always helped each other out. When they decided to make me a cashier I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to work with Dan as much. He just smiled and said "Don't worry, I'll bag for your register". And he did. I remember so many days where we got slammed and every cashier had a long line of people, each with a full cart of groceries. But Dan always bagged for me. 

My favorite thing about working with Dan was his sense of humor. We were always cracking jokes and making fun of each other. We were almost always the late night closers at our store and we would frequently take turns giving each other rides on the grocery carts and using the store intercom as though it were a toy. If I had to remain stuck at my register on slow nights he would clean the other registers near mine while we would act out skits from MAD TV. We laughed all day long and still did our jobs better than everyone else. 

He saw the drawing I made for Jackie. I could tell by the look on his face that he thought I was going to give him a girly picture. That was when I presented this to him:

Dan was a huge wrestling fan, and his favorite wrestler was Stone Cold Steve Austin. Dan had seen many of the drawing I had made over the years and most of them were of feminine characters. This was one of my first attempts at a realistic, ultra masculine figure. Dan was completely shocked. He had the biggest smile on his face. He didn't say much but I could tell that he loved it. 

I was proud to share my work with both of them. 

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