A Christmas climbing vacation last year ended before it ever really began, quite frankly. I had an emergency surgery and decided to leave my job as a live-in nanny for more income among other reasons. Immediately I was homeless, but at least I was smart enough to take care of my massive doctor's bills by ensuring my financial well-being. I say this in a grandiose way, but in fact I had told my part time job that I was now free to work as many hours as they could schedule; the more, the better. So began a long road of physical and financial recovery.
Approximately six hours before the emergency room.
The first four months of this year were spent working 50 hours a week without health benefits or paid time off all while living on my gracious friend's living room couch. By the way, thanks again Greg, Sarah, and Max. Things would certainly be different without that grace period. Still, though, I was without a permanent place to live and trying to prove myself everyday at work. I wanted desperately to have benefits, a "regular" schedule, and a room of my own. Slowly but surely I went from being just another part-timer to a real work horse. There were weeks that I slept in the stockroom or in my car simply because I had no other place to go and couldn't afford a different situation. This isn't the most glorious quote, but Mat Kearney once said, "nothing worth having ever goes down easy." I thought this many nights as I slept alone and sometimes sick in these places.
Some nights I slept in the mall just like Corduroy the bear.
Over those months I was given the classic run around by my boss and my boss' boss. My district manager continually told me to improve certain aspects of my job and "we'll see in a month" where I would be. Each month I was always in the same position. I had improved, but it was not quite what they were wanted. (Side note: what does indirect jaron like that mean?) By early summer I had been through two different stores and six bosses for various reasons. Full time associates and assistant managers were hired and quit within months, yet I was still a part-timer working more than 40 hours a week. By April I was literally knocking it out of the park every day I came to work. At the end of each month a top 20 list is posted for several sales categories, and I finally made it. Albeit the category was socks and I was a mere 16th best in the country, I was still proud of my accomplishment especially given my housing circumstances.
My brother came and visited in the middle of May. It was a breath of fresh air, even if it was for only a week. Some how things are always alright no matter how terrible they may seem if he is there. The presence of someone or lack thereof is a powerful thing. I realized my struggle at Clarks was just beginning and it would be a similar test to surviving architecture school. Amazingly enough, I found a great place to live in late May and was no longer sleeping in my car. I quickly settled in and went to work for Clarks even more dedicated.
The top 20 list for June was posted and I couldn't believe my eyes. I knew I had an unreal month, but to be on the list for a third time in a row was great. However, this time it was not for socks alone, but name was on the list in four of the six rankings. The most incredulous part was that I was at the top of the list in the two most important and difficult categories. In six months I had gone from and average, hard-working part-timer to the best shoe and accessory salesman in the country for Clarks. What a special moment. I finally felt like I had achieved something. There was a bonafide period where no one in the country was better than me at my job, plain and simple. In fact, I was almost 50 percent better than the second place finishers among 1000 sales associates, give or take a few. I felt an enormous sense of pride and an increasingly strong desire to do better the next month.
From the beginning of June to the present, I have approached each day or work and climbing the same. I want to be better than I was the previous day. It may be better in a different way, but I want to be constantly improving. Statistically, July was not as absurdly off the top of the charts, but for the second straight month I was number one in the two most improtant categories. This was the point where I wanted a personal goal of being the number one salesman in the company for the year. It will be February before I know for certain, but the numbers are looking as if that goal could be attainable. To be the best in back to back months made me realize that I was not a fluke salesman and I had dozens of customer testimonials to that fact as well. Unfortunately, my hours were being drastically reduced until somehow I was left with only four hours in the first week of August. How could this be? Why me? How did I slip through the cracks? What would I do?