I was 15 years old and starting my first job as a cashier at Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken on the westside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. All dressed up in my polyester pants and three-button shirt (in the very flattering color of concrete gray), I approached the cash register timidly. Standing next to me was a very patient 16-year-old whose job was to train me.
The first not-so-patient customer approached the counter and gave me her order. My trainer guided me in pushing the right buttons on the register and then said something that absolutely blew. my. mind.
“For every order, you have to ask the customer if they want their chicken regular, extra crispy, or oven-roasted.”
I stared at him with the wide eyes of a possum caught under a dog’s paw.
What?!? I didn’t sign up for this! How in the world will I remember to ask that of EVERY customer?
In hindsight, it doesn’t like such a difficult thing to remember to do. But, that feeling of fear never left me. My mind goes right back to my Lee’s Chicken days every time I start something new.
Everything seems hard the first time. Even things that later seem laughably easy.
When you are overwhelmed, just focus on the customer right in front of you.
When it seems like too much, know that you are capable of more than you ever imagined.
When challenges seem insurmountable, know that you will look back with pride in your accomplishments and the current challenges might not seem so big when looking in the rearview mirror.
And, sometimes just getting through the current situation is accomplishment enough.
Sending so much love to all educators who seem to be faced with new challenges every day. We got this, together.