Archive for Červen 19th, 2011

Selling shoes, Dad taught me to see work as a calling

Selling shoes, Dad taught me to see work as a calling

Sure, I knew women who worked, but the impression the young me got from them was that women had jobs not so much because they wanted them, but because they

had to have them, to help their families survive financially. With my heart set on being a journalist, I felt my work would be different. To figure out what

it was like to be someone who saw his profession as a calling, I looked to Dad.

For his entire adult life, Dad was a manager for the now-shuttered Kinney Shoes. What a disservice the shoe man Al Bundy on the TV comedy “Married … with

Children” did for that job! My dad, who has been retired for quite a while now, just loved his work; he enjoyed the customers and his employees so much.

I know I picked up a lot from watching how he felt about his job. Working long hours, giving the job your all — and then some — treating the people who

worked for you fairly, those are all traits I believe I picked up from Dad.

As a teen I worked for him. We rode to work together — more time to glean his wisdom — and it was in these years I witnessed how, when you found the kind

of work you loved, there was so much joy and personal satisfaction in it. Take the first big snow of every season. While everyone else dreaded its arrival,

that was like Christmas Day for Dad. The store would be packed, boxes of boots were everywhere and the register never stopped ringing. In the middle of it

all there he was, talking to customers, helping this employee or that one and always so pleased at the big sales.

Or there’d be the times when he’d be out back tinting a pair of shoes for someone’s prom or a wedding. He’d stand at that table mixing those colors like

a chemist and experimenting until he’d gotten it just right; after all, someone would wear them for a special day. From watching him, I realized if I was

going to have a career, money was not nearly as important as having work that mattered to you.

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