Part three of four – title purposely focuses entirely on the past tense. If you have ever in your life done a presentation in front of your class, or stood up in front of a group of people to speak about a certain particular topic – then you know the gnawing feeling of anxiety you get before that moment. The lurch in your stomach. It feels like you have an molten ball of lava rolling around in there, wreaking havoc on your insides. Your mind is dashing internally left and right, back and forth. You doubt yourself, you doubt your ability to deliver. You think you’re going to make an absolute fool of yourself. Then you stand up, trembling slightly, and you go to where you’re supposed to present. You look at all the faces staring back at you, and you open your mouth to speak. You quiver out the first few set of words, but then, familiarity hits – you feel okay. The anxiety begins to melt, and your words start to flow perfectly fine. You forget all feelings of uneasiness.
Imagine every conversation between you and another human being like this. Imagine for a moment, that you were so petrified of speaking to someone else other than family or friends, you would voluntarily choose to avoid other humans.
My second foray into Walmart was nerve destroying, but it was a lot like standing up in the class and beginning to speak. I was placed into Automotive – I had no other choice, and I needed to work at this point to provide for my child. My first day I walked in – I still remember them sending me to the backroom, telling me to run all their backstock (which I did in lightning speed to their amazement with jaws agape) and then stock up their battery delivery. This was taxing, but I also took care of it (Batteries are heavy and murder on the back..). Then it hit me like a right hook from Tyson, “Okay now go run the Register since there’s nothing else to do.” – uhh what? Petrified, I waltzed over there, and took my post. I got the crash course in ringing people up, and how to use the system. At this point I was not doing anything automotive based, I was just running the register.
My first few customers alone were so dreadful. I still can think back to the awkward, hand shaking moments where I gave them their change. “Have a nice day,” I would say, because, well wasn’t that appropriate? I didn’t know – I didn’t socialize with other people like that. Weeks went by, I was getting better at this. Then I took on automotive duties, such as selling oil changes, tires, and other lucrative “extras”. It got to the point I could sell all kinds of additions to oil changes, and up-sell on the more expensive ones.
I was making friends with the bay coordinator there, as you can imagine in a department, within a giant store, there is a sense of camaraderie there. He turned into a pretty good friend, we were both socially awkward, and both insanely fast at doing grunt work. We would talk a lot in between tire changes, oil changes, and flat fixes – it was around this time the manager of the whole Automotive Department started taking notice to our talents. You see we were grunts to the extreme – willing to do a ton of the dirty work fast, efficient, and without complaining. This Manager was going to night shift, and made a promise to me about getting me into Management. He clearly saw my drive, saw my ability to engage with customers (Jokes on him), and saw how well I got along with the Automotive crew.
With the two dollar raise I was whisked away to overnight stocking, where I would stock my ASS off, running circles around everyone. I did this for about a year, before the coveted position I was originally enticed with opened up. I did my very first real interview (New icebreaker!) – horribly might I add – and two weeks later they handed me a set of keys to the entire Supercenter, and named me “Support Manager”, which really just meant, “Underpaid, Whole Store-Bitch”. Walmart taught me something. The higher you get up the food chain, the less you do – because the managers on overnights would sit in the office, and then send me, the “Support Manager” out to manage the store, while they chilled out on their phones, televisions, or computers.
By now I was breaching my awkwardness. I still couldn’t handle discipline very much, but I could get people to work with me through my humble attitude I gained through World of Warcraft – and my fierce encouragement I could give someone. I was pretty much my own boss, very rarely was I micromanaged. I ran this entire Supercenter with very little guidance from my manager, and through a year or two of hard learning – I got fired.
Yep, you read that right. I got fired. Walmart will tell you I was changing my times, and arguing with upper management. Really what had happened is I learned a hard ass lesson. In retail, everyone is out for themselves (this would later be one of my personal virtues I would do my best to not have throughout the rest of my career). On the way to work, during work, or through other means, I was asked to fetch lunch for my Manager. It would make me late, and in turn I was told to change my time. It flagged. I was finger pointed. Manager raised both his palms and shook his head and blamed me. The end.
I was jobless. I had just bought a house. I had two kids at this point, and one had a brain condition that is a whole other story. I had come so far with how I was, I had nearly completely conquered my strangeness. So, with a panicked heart, I began to apply for jobs. Not even two days later, I had the interview that changed my life and the job, that would make me a man, a dedicated father, a mature human being, and, “UNintroverted.”
Until next time,