March 14, 2011

My Apron

Right now, the world is buzzing. The constant news coverage of the revolutions throughout the Middle East was interrupted by updates on the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Everything is being shaken up.

But for me, in my little world, the biggest news is that I've donned my Home Depot orange apron. Look out, I'm on the sales floor! I get to pack lots of fun stuff in my apron, like a box cutter, a tape measure, and little information booklets that no one reads. I even have a Spanish picture dictionary that I often read during my breaks. I despise the little "I'm in training" button that I must wear for the first four months, but I don't have a choice. I get a walkie-talkie so I can show the entire staff how "in training" I am with just the push of a button. I also get a store phone so I can confuse and frustrate customers, associates and associates from other stores in yet another way.

Despite (or maybe because of) the computer training about many of the products, I struggle to tell the difference between our ten models of push lawnmowers. When I find myself in an unfamiliar situation, I usually try to fake it. Oh yes, THIS is a great lawnmower. It has so many...features...to cut...your grass? My lack of product knowledge makes me feel uncomfortable and stupid. Most customers are very forgiving and actually take pity on me for trying. They thank me sincerely for my efforts and then walk away from the chainsaws empty-handed.

Beyond learning to sell the products, I've also got to move the products. This isn't boxes of licorice. This is 300-pound boxes of grills and awkward and heavy stuff that I don't recognize. I felt sorry for the guy from the paint department who had to partner with me this morning to move the heavy stuff up to tall shelves. He had to walk that funny line between being nice because I'm a girl and making me do the work because I'm...well, at work. The formalities disappeared when some of his buddies rode up on a fork lift. The next several hours were belches, cuss words, and man-gossip. I tried really hard not to be weird. Or belch.

13,000 steps later (or so my pedometer read), I had my first Home Depot paycheck, a new understanding of lawnmowers, and a humility that only comes from being mildly embarrassed for two days straight.

Success.