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9/9/2019 7:01:00 PM
Learn The Lessons

Martha Seagle
Guest Columnist

You’re never too old to learn new life lessons if you are open to learning.

I retired from a very complex and stressful career four years ago.  While the downtime has been refreshing (no more O-Dark Thirty wake-ups and no more 24/7 “On Call” duty), I found myself getting stale.  I decided that I needed to find “a little part-time job.”

One of the local places I truly enjoy shopping is a supermarket whose products are superior to its competitors and whose customer service is excellent.  Their employees seem happy and well trained in customer service, the type of business I would be happy to associate myself with. 

I applied for a part-time job at this business and ‘caught that bus.’  I worked in the deli department for exactly one day.  Wow, were my eyes opened wide into the behind the scenes operation of a supermarket, specifically one with a large deli operation.

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The employees and management I worked with on Friday were outstanding.  It was quite a diverse group of people:  retirees, young people in their first job ever, single moms, people of all ages and ethnicities. All were working toward the common goal of keeping that deli humming with good food and excellent service.

They were extremely patient with this lady who had never run a cash register in her life.  By 11 am, they were comfortable enough to leave me on my own with the only register in service.  I survived the 12 noon lunch rush with only a few minor issues which were quickly addressed.  In the entire day, I only encountered one impatient customer.  Sadly (at least it is to me), that customer was a store employee.  I’ll write that off to ‘She was just having a bad day.’

So, what did I learn from this experience?

  • There are no ‘little jobs’ out there any more.  All jobs are complex these days.  Running that deli is full of many details that the average consumer has no idea about:  checking temperatures, verifying product dates, sanitizing equipment, putting stickers on individual salad and soup bar containers, putting labels on salad dressing packets, make tea, make slushies, prepare the sample trays, cook the pizzas from scratch, make the ‘quick pick up’ sandwiches, make sushi, bake the bread, slice the meats and cheeses for the subs, wrap those ingredients in individual serving sizes, make deli case salads, cook food for the hot bar, clean the dining room, prepare flowers and silverware for steak night.  Tons of moving parts. I was truly amazed.
  • Most of the people in our little town truly are patient, friendly and kind, and they come from all walks of life:  construction workers, nurses, 3-piece suits.  I am proud to call Lincoln County my home.
  • The employees in service jobs who do their jobs well day after day deserve our respect.  Their jobs are by no means easy and they work very hard for the wages they earn.  I will greet them with a smile and a thank you every time I enter this store.
  • This ole gal doesn’t have it in her to stand for long periods of time.  I despise this reality, because I really enjoyed the work and especially enjoyed the teamwork of the deli team.  My ‘little part-time’ career ended after just one day when I realized my feet and legs weren’t up to the task. 

Whether you are young or old in years, keep yourselves open to the learning that life experiences teach you.  You will be a better person as a result.  As for me, I’m still learning.

--- Martha Seagle is a Lincoln County native.  She and husband Thom live in Iron Station.  They have two children, Jeb Seagle and Stacey Sheppard, both of whom live in South Carolina.

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