Sunday, 28 August 2011

I Was A Supermarket Snob

I have a confession to make... When I completed my degree and discovered I'd got the best result I could have hoped for, I thought the possibilities were endless and that I could reach for the stars. I was soon brought back down to earth when I realised how bad the job situation, but even then I told myself I was way above working at a supermarket. I don't really think of myself as big-headed. In fact, I have quite a low opinion of myself and sometimes feel unworthy whenever anyone's nice to me. But back then I had standards. And I didn't think that with a first-class behind my back I should have to stack shelves, or sit at a checkout, or put up with being spoken to like I was stupid. Despite this, I did apply to a couple of supermarket positions (both at Tesco) but was turned out, most probably because I had included my degree in my application form, and they knew I'd change jobs as soon as something better came up. I am deeply ashamed for ever entertaining this view. 

As you know, everything changed for me, and six months ago, out of sheer desperation, I applied for a part-time job at Sainsbury's. I think I realised that care work wasn't any more skilled than retail, and that actually the latter was a lot less stressful. I turned a corner and I have to say, I couldn't have been happier. I have met so many wonderful, lovely people at Sainsbury's. My colleagues recognise and appreciate me for who I am. I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not. And I don't think I over-exaggerate when I say they are as fond of me as I am of them. Take my first day back at work for example. 

I'd been away for just over a fortnight, but felt as though I'd been away longer than that. As a result, I anticipated walking in and finding everything was different, that everyone and everything had changed, and consequently, I felt a little nervous. So I left my car and shuffled into the store, and the first people I met were from the hygiene team. While I don't work with them directly, I often see them around when I'm at work, and as is my custom I smile and say a bright hello. The moment they spotted me that day, they greeted me and asked all about my holiday. What they said next touched my heart so much that I nearly started crying. In fact, I can feel tears creeping into my eyes as I write this. They said, "We noticed you weren't here, and we missed you!" "I missed you too!" I said, feeling extremely moved. 

And I received the like all morning from every colleague I met. They all asked about my holiday. They showed an interest. They all said they'd missed me and it had felt as though I'd been away for ages. They all said it was good to see me again. And I walked around with the biggest smile on my face, happy to be back. Happy to feel wanted and needed. Thrilled and deeply humbled to feel so loved. As with church, I have found a family of sorts at work too. 

I am very ashamed for having ever thought myself above working at a place like Sainsbury's. I was absolutely wrong. I might be capable of doing something more challenging, but I am not above doing anything. I am not above scrambling around in a chiller for half an hour, seeking out the right product for a customer. I am not above cleaning a toilet. I am so glad to have had this opportunity to have my view changed for the better, and to experience the wonderful love and team spirit that exists at Sainbury's. I have met some of the loveliest people here, and I love each and every one of them. And incredibly, I seem to have touched their hearts too, and contributed something myself to Sainbury's. I have worked here for nearly five months, nearly as long as I endured my last job, and I can honestly say, these have been the happiest five months! 

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