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Upon reaching a certain plateau in life—it’s only natural to look back and reflect on the journey.
As soon I was old enough to earn my own money, I went to the only place, and the closest place, I knew of that would hire a 15-year-old: the local grocery store.
My family didn’t necessarily need me to work, but I’ve never been the type to receive handouts—I need to earn my buck to fully enjoy it.
Originally hired as a bagger, I transitioned to a cashier as soon as my 16th birthday struck.
For the two years that followed, I checked out thousands of customers—while simultaneously bagging their orders, careful to keep perishables away from non-foods and making sure all of the cold items stayed together. Unlike many of my peers, I actually enjoyed it.
Sometimes it can be easier to act as a gear in a machine rather than as a sporadic entity.
It was during this time that I learned that confidence is key; when check-out lines collide with the store’s aisles—you learn the right answers, and how to state those answers to frantic customers, quickly.
With my 18th birthday came my new position as a non-foods associate. This was a big deal. It’s not every day that a front end associate finds a solid position in a different department.
I did not take the opportunity for granted.
After three years of bagging and checking, I spent the next three years pricing, stocking, and ordering products with three other women.
This new position also ran concurrent with my enrollment at Montgomery County Community College.
I spent those three years bustling between school and work. My commitment to both never waivered.
In April 2011, I quit. I quit and I never looked back, until now.
It was easy to maintain a low profile while going to classes, but these days I find myself back in my home town and facing hometown tribulations, such as awkward run-ins with familiar faces of the past. And even as I experience these instances, I ask myself why it is so awkward?
That crew of individuals that held me professionally accountable has contributed to the person I am today as much as the teachers that held me academically accountable from grade K to the big C.
I worked there while learning to drive; I worked there when I turned 21. That store and those people have had an impact on every one of my adolescent milestones.
As a 15-year-old, I maintained the same responsibilities as a 40-year-old, and at the age of 15, I resented it.
Now, as I embrace my mid-twenties, I am thankful for it.