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Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: The Last Day

Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: The Last Day

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Just as everyone who works in retail has a first day, some of us are fortunate enough to have a last day as well. I have been fortunate to leave two retail experiences in my life, one by choice, the other by necessity.

After working 11 years, 7 months, and 19 days in shoes, my time had come to an abrupt end. Valentine’s Day 2003. I was only scheduled a total of 4 shifts that previous month, with none of them being a full 8 hours. This was due in part to the fact that the Kmart in which I worked was slowly being stripped of its goods, shelving and racks, in order to close later that spring. On another note, the new boss who took the place of my old boss, didn’t like me.

I spent the last 6 hours of my sentence in shoes tying together 15,000 pairs of sandals in a poorly lit, unheated former Chuck E Cheese, to later be shipped to an undisclosed location. As I tied these sandals together, all I could think about was how much time I had wasted as well as the huge severance package that I was expecting to get (sadly, as you might remember from my very first piece, I did not receive anywhere near to what I was expecting to receive). After tying enough together and with my six hours up, I punched out, saying goodbye to people that I had known for years and didn’t look back (at least not until the day of demolition when I watched them knock the building to the ground). That building went on to first be a Home Depot, which didnt last long and then became a local grocery store chain, Pick and Save, which still stands to this day.

Now Target was a different story altogether because I was the one who made the decision to leave for greener pastures and better opportunities, even if it meant starting out at less pay. I had taken half of December and part of January off, having visited my future wife and children in their country for the holidays. When I returned, I worked a few shifts before being offered a position with the company that I work at to this day.

I went into the HR department and gave my two weeks notice, which is the customary thing to do when you plan on breaking free from your current employment situation. I told them that I had another job lined up and wanted to let them know how much I enjoyed working for them and for the opportunities that I had received during the time served here at Target. They told me that all I needed to do was finish out that week’s schedule and that the rest of my sentence would be commuted.

I counted down the days with a joy that I had not felt at any time in the previous 13 months of servitude, waiting for that final time clock punch, that final wearing of a red shirt, that final listening to an MOD find ways to stretch the work day in order to pad their paycheck. Then the last day came and I walked out with my meager possessions and a bus ticket to my next retail opportunity, one in which I still find myself employed to this day.

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Now I have heard some people who go out with a bang on their last day, who make it memorable or a way to release the stress that had been building up for years and years and years, but I was not one of those people. I just wanted to put in my time, hold my head up high, and never look back.

As for which job was more memorable and rewarding, I think that it’s equally split between the two, with first days being much more memorable while walking out the set of barred doors that last time being more rewarding.

Cover image courtesy of Traveller_40 via Flickr

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