It was a cloudy and cold February day in 2016. My mom and I just stopped by my current place of employment on the way from shopping and also to check the status of my application. The first person I met there was the HR manager, who, surprisingly, scheduled me an interview that same day at 1 pm—not enough time to prepare anything spectacular and change into nicer clothes, since it was almost lunchtime.
The second person I met was a woman, Anastasia,* who was also interviewing for a similar job, and she was dressed for the interview. We made small talk, while waiting to be interviewed.
The third person I met was the interviewer. I did not know this, at the time, but he was going to be my manager, Chris*. I was very nervous while being interviewed. He asked me only one question, “How did you go above and beyond for a customer?” I answered, nervously stumbling over my words, that I would go to great lengths, even asking a manager for help if I was not able to help them myself, and praying for them if they wanted prayer. Because I was so nervous, I was not even sure if I was going to be accepted for the job!
Chris was very busy, walking back and forth, between either stocking or doing returns and checking on the job offer process. I had never seen a manager work that hard in my life!
About a half an hour after being interviewed, Anastasia and I both found out that we were accepted for the job! Anastasia accepted immediately, but I sought counsel from my loved ones, before accepting the job offer the next day.
After that, though I didn’t realize this at the time, that Chris would make such an impact on my life and teach me some important life lessons, I would never forget him:
Here are some of the lessons Chris taught me that can be applied to anyone’s life as well:
- Whatever you do, do it with all your heart.–Ever since I first met Chris, he never did anything half-heartedly. He always worked to ensure each customer had the best possible service experience possible. I remember once he gave the customer a discount because the product wasn’t priced correctly. He also made accommodations for associates’ schedules, understanding that they have a life outside of work too. Once, Chris gave me a Saturday off so that I could go to my good friend’s son’s graduation party. He also worked hard at what he did too, working extremely long hours and sacrificing everything sometimes to ensure that things got done that needed to be. Because I saw that he worked with all his heart, I became inspired also to never to do things half-heartedly whenever possible. I, too, found myself wanting to work with all my heart. This resulted in me being able to gain the respect of others and striving to be even better in what I did, as an associate. Even my friend Mark* commented recently that Chris always worked so hard, even though people didn’t really appreciate him.
- Strive to know each person’s life story before judging them.— During my first year of knowing Chris, I had such a difficult time getting to really know or understand him. Thus, we had many conflicts. It was very difficult for me to think positively about him, because I had already judged him a certain way in my heart. However, when Chris told me about all the sacrifices he has had to make every day for the people at my workplace, including me, I was so filled with remorse and regret about not valuing him as I should have that I later cried in the break room. He forgave me, but I had learned an important lesson that day: Not to judge people before knowing what they have to go through. Plato, or someone, had said to be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. I find that when I learn each person’s life story, that I don’t judge them negatively anymore, but I become filled with more compassion and understanding of what they have had to go through on a daily basis. Thanks to the lesson that Chris taught me about this, I have met some of the most genuine and compassionate people through taking the time and effort to learn their life story a bit more.
- Work to value each person in your midst, or you will regret it when they are gone or leave you.— During that first year when Chris was my manager, I don’t think I really valued him. I never knew that one day I would be faced with the reality that I would probably never get to see him again, and that I would regret that year to this day. I was so consumed with anger and bitterness towards him, that I was blind to the light in his soul. However, one of my pastors, Pastor John,* helped me to release that junk to God, and later our work relationship was able to be redeemed. Unfortunately, Chris would be moved to another area of the store altogether, and then to a different shift altogether. I still got to talk to him, but much less than before. My heart hurts knowing that I will never be able to redeem the time that I lost that first year to bitterness, anger, and resentment that should have never occurred. I should have valued him much more—because not only did he give me the opportunity to be employed at my current job, but he taught and gave me so much that I will never be able to adequately repay. So, we should learn to value each person that walks our path, because they all can teach us something to better our life. Sometimes, they can even change our lives for the better—and those are the people we should keep close to our hearts before we lose them altogether.
When we are passionate and diligent about what we do with our lives, when we learn about others before judging them and when we work to value each person that is in our midst, we will make the world a better place. Though I know that my time with Chris, just as with everyone else, is limited, I will always be thankful for what he has done for my workplace and for me, and the impact he has made in my life.
*=names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals mentioned.