So… I’m going to be back in orange again. And this time it’s not going to be picking up trash along the freeway as penance—I just landed a job as a Home Depot cashier. There’s a tiny part of me that wonders if I shouldn’t sigh and shake my head at myself, past forty with a Master’s degree and excited about cashiering… But I’m pretty sure that’s the part of me I don’t like very much. The rest of me is tickled. I get to be part of the “culture of the Orange Apron.” I get to spend my day with people.
One thing that has been a constant across all my jobs is the fact that I get “charged” by interacting with people. It’s like the human version of putting a cell phone on a charger—I charge my batteries with friendly interactions. It’s the part I loved about the restaurant I had with my late husband—it was literally a “mom and pop” shop, with him cooking and me serving, and people streaming through and smiling with me all day long. I felt like I got a percentage of every smile that happened at my place during the day, and I could come home absolutely exhausted, but still grinning.
It’s what I like about my job at the RV park, and it’s what I’ve been missing on the other days of the week when I’ve been home alone with the laptop, working on freelance articles for a client in India. Somehow the WhatsApp conversations with India don’t have the same charge-me-up potential as in-person interactions.
When we were running the restaurant, we had a favorite joke. Whenever someone had a special request or an off-menu idea, Keoni would say, “I’ll have to check with Corporate“… and then he’d turn to me and ask, “What do you say, Babe?” That was the best thing about “being Corporate” at Kana Girl’s Hawaiian BBQ—the fact that I could always make the judgment call to please the customer. So imagine how pleased I was to find out this week that Home Depot associates are actually given a budget to use at their discretion to accommodate customers who might otherwise be having a negative experience. I certainly used that same sort of “power” to good effect in our restaurant, knowing that an occasional meal on the house (when an order took too long, say) would be more than made up for when that customer kept returning. I don’t think many big companies think that way, but at Home Depot even a cashier is empowered to make that kind of call.
I’m looking forward to writing my name on an orange apron, and I’ll be proud to wear an “I am Empowered” patch on it! And having looked over the (frankly astounding) benefits Home Depot offers, I’ll say that even the negative head-shaking part of me will probably shut up whenever I get to move into a full-time position! For now, the Home Depot manager has agreed to work around my two-days-a-week at the RV park, which means I’ll be getting income from one job AND free rent from the other.
And good thing, because now that I have someplace to go, I’ll need to reinstate my driver’s license, which is going to cost more than seven hundred bucks. (Don’t ever underestimate how EXPENSIVE it is to get a DUI! Court fees, fines, probation fees, drug-testing fees, required class fees… at least the license is the final expense. Whew.) I’ve been off supervised probation and eligible to reinstate for a while already, but since my “commute” to work has been a mere matter of walking from my RV to the park-office a couple hundred meters away, it hasn’t seemed worth the price of getting the license back. So pretty much my first month’s work at the new job will go to paying for that driver’s license.
Here’s what I get to look forward to, though: I’m not just getting my driver’s license back, I’m also going to add a motorcycle endorsement! I’ve become a motorcycle-junkie since marrying Jon, can’t seem to get enough of riding—but up to now I’ve just been the “decorative item” on the back of the bike. I want to learn, though. And Jon is already eyeballing Craigslist for a second bike. Yesterday I read the state’s motorcycle manual and aced the online practice test. When I get the driver’s license back I’ll be eligible for the motorcycle “instruction permit,” and sign up for the local safety class.
Last night I dreamed I was riding… Maybe there was an orange apron in the saddlebag.