New Frontiers

Confess your passion, your secret fear. Prepare to meet the challenge of the new frontier.

— Donald Fagen, The New Frontier

I make it a point to grow where I am planted, to find the joy in each day, to try and keep a smile on my face here and in public. I know that if you fake it, you can eventually bake that smile onto your face and right into your psyche to become that go-to point of positivity for your world.

I had applied to work at Costco four times since I got shoved into the unemployment line back in April. Most big companies employ an on-line process to screen applicants, so this year I quickly got used to sending a piece of my soul into the Internets from three times a week to sometimes three times a day.

Good-bye cover-letter-resume-combo info packet…

Whenever I’d get a call for an interview, I’d get very happy and excited. If I got to meet with people, I could tell INSTANTLY whether it was going to happen. One time I was brave enough to say that I could tell this wasn’t going to work out, thanked them and left. In and out before the 30-minute free parking clock ran out. After a while you get really tired of the BS dance. Why fake it?

In under two hours after I sent my last application to Costco, I got a call from the store that’s less than 10 minutes from home. I had four interviews over a few days. I had to pass a background check and a drug test for a seasonal part-time position. With that kind of investment, I hope they hire me permanently. As a Costco shopper, I always thought it would be great to have a job like that. After having a job where my writing is OK one day but not the next, I was ready for a job that didn’t have me coming home each night demoralized and sad.

It’s been almost a month since I started and I’ve not worked less than 36 hours a week. I enjoy it, but it’s very hard. Some coworkers seem skeptical about my ability to cope with the workload. At first my legs would ache with the running around or standing at the tables folding merchandise, but the ache would be gone in the morning, thanks to my triathlon training. When I was sent out to round up carts from all over the parking lot, I got a feel for hard labor in the hot sun or pouring rain. I have graduated from pushing seven carts at a time to eight. I have a garbage bag hooked onto a belt loop, and I wear my garden gloves to make picking up the glop left in carts more bearable. I believe in hard work, and I enjoy the contemplation this job gives me. I’ve made a point of returning found items to the front desk, logging them in so someone can come in and claim it.

What I like about Costco is that no one is too good for any one job. And that makes it a hugely wonderful place to work — where the managers will join me outside because I can’t get carts to the front door fast enough. It’s a great problem to have — shoppers eager to spend and willing to wait by the front door as you approach with a few hundred pounds of steel on wheels.

This certainly has been a big change for me. Some of my old friends, former colleagues and fellow school moms see me at Costco and are stunned. Some old friends see me and just keep on going. It’s OK. I need to work but heck if I’m ever going to work at a job that doesn’t make me happy. With all the time we spend working, you might as well get a kick out of what you do. This is why I also decided to become a substitute teacher out here for East Oahu DOE schools. Talk about the new frontier. Kids are interesting and they need to know that. And I’m back to freelance writing, mostly getting published in Hawaii Business Magazine. It’s nice that somebody out there thinks I can string a few words together.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.

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