Moving Onward (and a Bonus Top List)

©The San Diego Union-Tribune

My first official job ended yesterday.

I handed in my two weeks’ notice last Friday to one of the store managers at Frazier Farms Market in Oceanside. He jokingly tried to hand it back to me, but it was one of those jokes where it’s actually half meaningful. I have been employed as a “courtesy clerk” for 13 months, and I have been counted on as one of the most reliable employees there. That’s what made it hard; I knew I was a good employee and was very valued there, but it was time for me to move on.

How did I come to this decision to quit? Well, it’s a little complicated.

A few months ago, I had made the decision to quit in May 2019 right before I graduated, with or without having another job lined up. I really didn’t want to go through another summer working there (last summer was brutal — it was extra busy with all the vacationers at the beach and really hot), and I definitely didn’t want to work there by the time I got married. But then, three weeks ago, I woke up with a terrible feeling, one that made me dread going in to work that morning. I was on the verge of tears for about an hour after I had started. I tried to play it off as just feeling “extra emotional”, but deep down, it was work itself that was making me feel that way.

Courtesy clerk is the entry level position at the store. Think “janitor” who also helps out customers. Initially, the mindlessness of going around the store sweeping and doing other housekeeping tasks appealed to me. School work was mentally draining, so it was refreshing to not have to think so much. But then, the monotonous of it all started to get to me. Sweep, grab shopping carts, sweep, clean the bathrooms, bag groceries, sweep more. The only time I was enjoying myself was when I got to talk to customers and coworkers. I didn’t exactly think that the things that I was doing were “below me”, but I did feel like I should be doing something better, something that is more enjoyable and more applicable to what I’m studying in school.

I had a conversation with my friend, Karlee, during church three weeks ago. Karlee works at the YMCA as a childwatch attendant. I had actually applied to this exact job about a month before I applied to Frazier Farms. I had an interview, but didn’t get hired. Then, I got hired at Frazier Farms…It’s all connected! Karlee told me that the Y were looking to hire a bunch of people for childwatch attendants and that I should apply. I felt a little hesitation because they had rejected me not once, but TWICE (I had an interview for a summer camp counselor a few years back), and I didn’t know if I could handle possibly being rejected a third time. But, I knew it was a sign from God. Why did I have that overwhelming feeling of desperately wanting to quit two days before? And why did the Y desperately need new employees now?

That night, I put in an online application. The next day, while waiting for my class to start, I got a voicemail from the YMCA of San Diego County office asking me to set up an interview. Wow, that was fast. I called back after class had ended, and we set up a group interview for the next Monday, March 4. I had an interview with one other person (my previous interview had two other people), and at the end, the supervisor said that we both had “really good interviews”. Right before my second class on Mondays, I checked my email and saw 4 unread YMCA emails, one that said, “Congratulations on your new position”. WOW, THAT WAS FAST! I laughed really hard — compared to what I went through last time applying for the position, this went through miraculously fast. I think it’s safe to say that this was meant to be. My next day of work at Frazier Farms was that Friday, March 8. That was when I handed in my two weeks’ notice.

Of course, to have it be a proper two weeks, my last day was supposed to be March 22, which is currently NEXT week. I had a quick chat with the schedule manager on Friday, and this is how it went:

Him: So, when’s your last day again?
Me: Next Friday. March 22nd.
Him: Oh…so do you want me to clear your schedule so you don’t have to come in and work next week?
Me: No, that’s okay. My last day will be next week.
Him: Okay. (smiles)
Me: (smiles back, walks away)

It seemed to me like he understood! But then I went into work yesterday and checked the schedule. My name was gone, and somebody else had my typical shifts. I laughed to myself. “Well, I guess TODAY is my last day!!!” I had told everyone that next week was my last day…oops.

Now that my official work at Frazier Farms is done, I thought it was poignant to write about this little experience and to cap it all off with a bonus Top List (these lists have been far and few, sorry about that!)

And thus, here is March’s Top List: Top 4 Most Memorable Injuries I Incurred While at Work
(disclaimer: these injuries were all my fault, and none of them caused any serious harm. I’m very prone to injuring myself, so these are just funny stories)

4. Getting stung by a bee for the first time.

This happened pretty early on, about a few months after starting work. Because I had never been stung by a bee before, it had always been a secret fear of mine that I was actually allergic to bee stings, and the only way I would be able to find out is to get stung, have a super painful allergic reaction, and possibly die. And what’s really funny about this is that I had recently had a dream that I got stung by a swarm of bees! I had maybe thousands of bee stings, but I didn’t have an allergic reaction. And I DIDN’T DIE! I felt like that could be been God telling me that I’m not allergic to bees, and to stop having that fear, stupid, you ain’t gonna die!!! It was springtime, so the bees were out and about. I was on cart duty, and I casually placed my hands on the handle of a cart to push it back to the store. I immediately pulled my hand back, feeling something sharp on that little skin groove between my thumb and my palm. Then, I saw a bee fly away.

Oh crap. I just got stung by a bee.

I put that one cart back, went inside, and consulted my supervisor. “Hey, umm, I think I just got stung by a bee…” “Have you ever been stung before?”, she asked. “Nope.” She went into immediate Mom Mode, took me to the back sink, washed it out, and took out the stinger with some sugar. Then she put on antibiotic ointment and wrapped up my hand with a bandage. IT HURT. My whole hand felt numb for the next hour, and it made working normally a little challenging. But I made it through, and now I know how it feels to get stung by a bee.

3. Cutting my palm with a piece of glass.

A few months ago, I used to exclusively get closing shifts that were from 3:30-9:30pm. Closers have a good amount of extra tasks that they need to do, like taking out all of the trash. My fellow closer that night was carrying a very heavy bag of glass bottles to the trash chute and needed help throwing it in. She had actually put the bag in a shopping cart to transport it, and it had gotten caught on the sides. I didn’t realize that a piece of broken glass was sticking out the side of the bag, and I placed my hand right on top of it to grab the bag.

Oh crap. I just cut my hand.

It wasn’t a very deep cut, and it didn’t gush an excessive amount of blood, so I wasn’t too worried about it. I just needed to wash it off and put a bandage on. My coworker, though, felt REALLY bad about it, and kept apologizing and making sure I was okay.

I was okay, just a klutz 😉

2. Smashing my pinkie finger with a watermelon.

I know, that sentence just sounds crazy. But let me assure you — it happened! I’m not making it up!

This happened last July, during the crazy summer when everyone was buying giant freaking watermelons. I was bagging a customer’s groceries, and I was picking up their watermelon from off of the register counter. It got stuck in between the side, and my finger got caught in between the watermelon and the side of the register. It got bruised right between the knuckle and the first pinkie joint. It hurt just as much as when my index finger got stuck in my mom’s car door (it was even there for at least a minute because the doors lock as soon as they’re all closed). This injury took a while to heal. My finger couldn’t bend a certain way, and I had to briefly keep it in a splint. Now, there’s some weird bump on the inside of the finger (Mark thinks the blood vessel got moved around).

Be careful around watermelons. They’re dangerous.

And now, for the finale…

“Dislocating” my shoulder while cleaning a toilet.

What. the. heck.

This one gained me quite the reputation in my young adults group at church. Although this happened quite a while ago, it still gets mentioned because of its outrageousness.

I use the term “dislocate” loosely because I can’t conclusively and correctly say that my shoulder was dislocated because I never saw a doctor. But, after what it went through, it makes sense to say that my shoulder was briefly dislocated.

It happened on a night when I had a closing shift. I was scheduled with the task of a “thorough”, which is the hour-long bathroom cleaning of the men and women customer bathrooms and the 2 employee bathrooms. During the thorough, we restock any supplies, scrub the toilets, wipe down the stalls, wipe down the mirrors, and take out the trash. I started with the women’s bathroom, and as I was scrubbing the second of 4 toilets, I moved my shoulder weirdly as I bent back up.

OH CRAP!!!! What just happened to my shoulder?? It hurts!!!!

I still had two more toilets in that bathroom to clean, mopping, and then everything else that I needed to do for the remaining 3 bathrooms. I couldn’t even move my left arm. I finished up with the womens’, and ran out to find one of my fellow courtesy clerks. The closing supporter was there, and when I asked her if she could tie my jacket around my shoulder like a sling, she looked at me confusingly. She did it anyway, but it didn’t help. It took me a while trying to do things because I could barely move without being overcome with pain. I had to clock out in ten minutes, and I still had one more bathroom to clean. I ended up not cleaning the last bathroom.

I drove home. Let me tell you, it was a very tough experience. Making right turns was intense. I sat on my bed, crying from pain. I had work the next day, and in this condition, I definitely couldn’t work. And I didn’t want to call out sick. So, while almost yelping out like a dog, I moved around my arm and my shoulder. I thought stretching it would make it felt better because I thought I had just pulled the muscle. Eventually, after a couple minutes, I moved my shoulder at the perfect spot and felt it slide back into place. The pain immediately stopped. Hallelujah!

When I told people the story, they were astounded at the fact that I put MY OWN shoulder back into place — I guess most people get a chiropractor or a doctor to do that…

Thanks for having me, Frazier Farms. It’s been a great year for having some interesting experiences, building new skills, and learning from mistakes.
Now, onward, to the YMCA!

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