Summer jobs although lame are beneficial

Trevor Drew

Over the summer, I worked at a Great Lakes Ace Hardware in downtown Royal Oak, Michigan. When I first got the job, I wasn’t necessarily excited. To be honest, the idea of hanging around a hardware store for a good chunk of the summer seemed pretty lame. And at times it was lame. However, by the end of the summer, I’m not sure if I would have wanted to work anywhere else.

The first few weeks, I struggled to fall into my niche as the newest sales associate on the Ace team. I thought the store kind of smelled weird and the music that played on repeat in the background was maddening on slow days.

Every time a customer approached me, I prayed that they would ask me a question I knew the answer to so I wouldn’t have to admit that I was new and had no idea what they were talking about.

As mundane and tedious as the usual day was, it was far more bearable than the dreaded “bad customer.” I don’t know why, but for some reason whenever a problem customer came in I was the one who had to deal with them.

One day, a lady came in to pick up a rotating fan she ordered and when she learned someone had taken it out of the box and assembled it, she went nuts—absolutely nuts, actually. It was the most ridiculous reason to get upset and I had to stand there and let her yell at me for about 20 minutes while my manager scrambled to find a solution.

As terrible as it was at the start, I actually came to enjoy the tiny store and the regulars that I became familiar with. People would recognize me around town as the guy who hauled eight bags of topsoil into their truck for them or the guy who helped them find an obscure lightbulb they didn’t think they would ever find.

The job that I dreaded going to became something I looked forward to. I managed to memorize the layout of the store, learned to mix paint and cut keys, and became very familiar with how screws, nuts, and bolts are organized.

As I started to become more familiar with plumbing, electrical and garden, I realized that most customers aren’t really looking for an expert to answer every single possible question. Most just appreciated if you tried your best and were kind to them.

Even if a customer called me over to do something as simple  as grabbing something off a high shelf, it was always nice to have my assistance met with a smile and a thanks.

When the time came and I had to pack my bags for Marquette, I was pretty sad to leave all the people I met at Ace. Most jobs are inherently crappy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from them. After an 8-hour shift in the store, I was better able to relax knowing that I worked hard and I felt satisfied with my day.

My grandpa once told me that jobs aren’t supposed to be fun and I used to think that was true. However, now I realize there is a difference between having fun and feeling fulfilled after a hard day’s work at an OK job.