August 6, 2008

Too Good to be Threw

I just reconnected with an old employer from waaaay back in 1984. Thank you internet. Kate ran a consignment store in Columbus Ohio, called One More Time, and I worked there as a clerk. I was quite impressed and sometimes a little intimidated by her, but I watched her and learned how a strong independent woman operates. Those were some fun times; I learned a lot of valuable lessons, and when I took a crack at running my own store, 10 years later, I even bought her book.

When I worked at One More Time I was 19 going on 2 and not the most confident person on earth; somewhat used to being damned if I did and dammed if I didn’t. I think Kate knew that and wanted me to grow some backbone. “Show some initiative Wendy.” she told me once in a way that made me think my mousey little fluff ball act was not going to cut it with this woman; and so I did. Not exactly a moment Helen Reddy would have sung about, but it did have an effect on me, and many times over the years being the first to speak up or show a little strength has helped me get to where I wanted.

And when I was breaking up with the architect and not showing up for work and being a crying mess when I did show up, she told me, “Wendy, work can be a break from what is happening in your life.” Well, I never forgot that either and it has worked for me, even though I did not get it when she said it, because I thought breaking up with a boyfriend of 3 months was worse than death. But since then there have been times when I thought, thank God I am going to work tomorrow and won't have to deal with this or that...

After my most recent experience of working for
ass on fire women, I look back on what I remember as Kate’s no BS attitude and long for a logical work environment, even though at the time I didn’t realize how good I had it. But Kate wasn’t all brass. I was living in a basement apartment riding the bus to work, and if I missed the transfer, I stood in the snow, froze like hell and was late. That winter, Kate gave us Christmas bonuses….and it was enough to buy that car from my sister’s boyfriend that I had been talking about. Checks were presented at a nice restaurant, also courtesy of Kate.

I could go on, but suffice it to say I remember what she did for me and others. One of the girls working at the shop went on to buy it, ran it quite well and even expanded it. Kate also got her man to give me snorkeling lessons so my Ohio wouldn’t show too much when the architect took me to Key West. And when I bought a to die for gold jacket from one of her regular customers on the side, she barely said a word. (Probably should have fired me, sorry about that Kate.)

So when I got her response to my email today, and she remembered things about me, I started to remember all the things I admired about her. Thanks Kate for the job, the bonus, the advice, and the friendship, cause I didn’t know it then, but you were a friend


Patty said...

What a nice tribute. Kate has touched so many lives in such positive ways - my own included.

Anonymous said...

Gave me goosebumps just reading! I love that woman too! I do not know her as well as some but she is awesome! She has helped me succeed in ways I cannot describe. So Wendy I know exactly where you are coming from. If only I were as fortunate as you to have been an employee...or even that fly on the wall...


Anonymous said...

Wow, how wonderful is that? Would that every woman could have her own Kate to look up to.