“Paul Harris.” The words were a jolt from the past. While packing up items to go home from a family gathering, my sister had found a really old plastic shopping bag. As I pulled that drawstring handle, and stared at the bright orange and red colors on the logo, my mind raced back more than 40 years to my teenage years. Paul Harris was a specialty store offering casual, trendy attire for the fashion conscious, especially teens. It was my first real job. Sure, I babysat for years, but this employment had an official paycheck. I couldn’t help but smile and even laugh. (Before my first day of work, I called my sister to get directions to our Mall where Paul Harris was located. Obviously, my sense of direction was not the best.)
My duties while on the job varied. Much of my time was spent straightening the racks of clothes as well as returning items from the dressing rooms to the proper location- not at all an exciting task. Those days would move as slow as molasses. The days that flew by were those filled with customers who began to rely on me to put outfits together. (I still love matching up items!) The store did play current rock and roll tunes which helped invite the people inside and the hours pass more quickly. I recall singing or humming right along. I soon discovered that it was up to me to make the time fun as well as productive.
The experience in the shop taught me much about life. Besides learning to coordinate outfits, it taught me how to interact with strangers who could be friendly or…not so friendly. I learned about responsibility, accountability, sacrifice, budgeting, time management, and much more. But the biggest lesson was to be the best ME that I could be and to do it enthusiastically. Happiness and hard work are contagious. I learned that if you invest in both, the job flowed better, time moved productively, and my boss responded positively, too.
Those life lessons have remained with me. As I studied that old colorful shopping bag, I thought about the people who were regular customers or fellow associates during those years. Some of them remain in my life. I smiled and thanked God for the experiences from my first real job… and what it taught this future teacher.