Not Just a Hello

by Samantha Z.

 “Hello!” Make sure to smile. “I’m doing well. You?” Look presentable. “Can I help you find something?” Be inviting. “Sure! I think I know where that is.” Now proceed to walk, but don’t walk too fast to make them feel rushed, but don’t walk too slow that they’re stepping on your ankles. Try not to tap your feet or play with your hands because that shows impatience and lack of confidence, even if it’s a nervous tick. Oh, and don’t forget to breathe. Having your first job in rural town LaMoure, North Dakota can be a little hectic, but with a little experience, some patience, and a tiny bit of luck, it can get you through the first year.

So first things first, the phone rings. I had sent in my application a few weeks earlier, but the rush of a strange number calling the home phone, while I was by myself, gave me a small scare. Technically in bigger towns an interview would be a bit more formal and involve more of you “bragging” about yourself, but in LaMoure everybody knows everybody. Some people know your name faster than you can blink.

In an instant, I was being told to come in by Eve, part one of the bosses, on Wednesday after school to discuss the rules, regulations, and requirements of this job opportunity. I tend to work myself up about these types of things, this being the rest of the “extravagant” interview, but I got the job! From that point on, I was a working citizen. I worked a lot that summer, even with all of my camps and trips I kept having to tell Eve about. Whenever I came into work, Eve was there to help train and guide me to be a better employee, whether it was mixing paint, cutting keys, running the till, or stocking items. One thing she told me was, “No matter what you’re doing, the customers come first.”

Customer service was a bit of a hassle sometimes. You could almost say that I knew who I wanted to help more. This could be their attitude or simply how they walk into the store. I have had my fair share of difficult customers. Some people just need to find their items a certain way. From ringing up their items to helping carry out their bags, you never know what you might be doing wrong. For instance, one time I had some assistance of a co-worker help lift softener salt into a van and was told that the two of us weren’t strong enough. Not only did they continue to comment on our help, but asked a gentleman to move the bags for us. Despite the degrading points, there are still chances to find those people who let you know that you’re doing a good job and are happy with their service, even if your wrapping skills aren’t exactly the best.

Everyday people can vary a little or a lot on what they need. They open the door, you look each other in the eye, and then you figure out if they need your help or not. How can you tell? With my growing knowledge, I found four patterns. One, they say nothing and scurry to the back of the store. This means that know exactly what they’re looking for and you are useless for trying to assist them. Two, normally in a small group, they greet you with a “Hello!” and “No thanks, we’re just looking” then continue to the kids section or Sweet Pickens because they are definitely here to waste a little time. Three, a short “Hello” and “I think I know what I’m looking for” as they walk their merrily way through the store. This is where they basically find what they’re looking for, with little to no help, or see someone more experienced is working which encourages them to ask someone who isn’t me. Four, once you have made eye contact there is no going back and you know you are going to have to do your best find what they’re looking for. They trust you completely that you know almost anything and everything about the store, so be prepared.

I couldn’t have prepared myself for my co-workers. They make working with difficult people and machines easier than I could imagine. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked where something was or what aisle it was in. In a blink of an eye, they would know where it is and show me, or tell me the exact aisle, direction, and if it would be at my eye level. Sometimes them belting out a song or shouting with excitement that they wanted to mix paint would bring a smile to my face. Every once in awhile, something in the store changed. Whether it be learning how and what bin location was, AKA: how to locate items in the store, or putting the end of the day’s sales in a certain order, we did our best to help each other the best we could.
After the day is done and over, I’m glad I decided on handing in my application form for LaMoure Hardware. This type of experience isn’t granted anywhere else other than North Dakota. Opening up this register of opportunity, I will never forget what makes this place so memorable. Good or bad days, rude or extremely nice people, messing up or just down right forgetfulness, I know that I can count on a little hardware store in North Dakota to warm my heart. Maybe I started this job to make a little bit of change to jingle in my pocket and be able to understand mechanics more to show off to my dad, but I am so grateful that it turned into much more. So thank you and have a nice day.