Three-and-a-half years ago I started a job that saved my life. It didn’t pull me out of a drug-bender or save me from tumors, but I owe a great deal to the fact that I worked there. Today, though, was my final shift at the Lego store… and it was very bitter-sweet.
Now, when I first heard that a Lego store was opening in the Mission Viejo mall, I was very excited for two reasons: 1., I would be the perfect employee for that store, and 2., I needed a freakin’ job. I had been out of work for months, my bank account had dwindled down to almost nothing (LITerally), and I was running even lower on the tattered remains of hopeful enthusiasm.
Then, that all changed 🙂 .
It was because of this job that I started spending regular time around kids again, and found that I had finally moved past some hurtful times from years ago. It was because of this final bandage that I was in just the right place to return to college to become a teacher. Even if I no longer pursue that exact profession, I will certainly be working with children — and I may not have been led back to that mindset if not for my time at Lego. I could not fathom a guess as to how many adorable babies I was able to giggle over and make faces at while working at the Lego store, nor could I imagine how many over-excited children I’ve had conversations with as I took a break from my work duties to listen to a little someone who was very eager to tell me something.
Of course, this job was also a retail job (and a retail job amongst children, at that), so it brought with it certain less-than-wonderful aspects: I’ve cleaned up every bodily fluid there is (even a solid turd, at one point… yep), I’ve been yelled at/mocked/belittled by plenty of unhappy customers, I had to endure the pitfalls of corporate-mentality pressures, and the day-to-day grind of cleaning up after customers who don’t think twice about leaving a mess in their wake was tiring. Ultimately, however, even though I am certainly ready to move on from retail, the pros of this job far outweigh the cons. I have been able to make someone’s day more times than I can count, by finding that one Lego piece or helping out in some other way. I love service, and this job offered me oodles of opportunities to make the most of that passion to help. After 3.5 years, I had a ton of regular customers, too, that I enjoyed seeing on a regular basis.
And yeah, there were a LOT of hot moms. I’m really going to miss them 😦 .
Beyond the job and the cute/attractive customer base, though, what I really loved about this job were the folks I worked with. I really lucked out at this place — I’ve never had such a great group of people as co-workers, before. I would certainly fall short if I even attempted to address every great memory I had working there, so I won’t even try, but it was these people that made working at the Lego store my favorite job I’ve yet had. I walked out today with a lump in my throat, because after hugs and fond well-wishes, I was just as sad to leave this crew as they were to lose me. But hey, I’m not dead… I hope to still see them on visits or even outside of the store. Sure, it’s rarely ever quite the same, but that’s how life goes.
And oh what a chunk of life this has been 🙂 . During this time period I had my first date, had my first second date (different girl), returned to school, and found myself. I mean, scroll back through my blog archives to September 2011 and you’ll be witness to a huge bit of existence that I’ve gone through while working at this store. So, leaving Lego not only carries with it the usual sadness of saying goodbye to some really fun co-workers (and the hot mom customers.. did I mention that I’m really going to miss them?), but this is the closing of one heck of a chapter in my life.
So, what am I moving on to? Well, I wasn’t planning on leaving Lego quite this soon, but through a very fortuitous series of events, I was asked to apply as an after-school worker for a local Montessori elementary… and it was just too good of an opportunity to pass by. Yeah, it’ll be (really, really) wonderful to have my nights and weekends free, but as wonderful as Lego was to me, it wasn’t a career position. That’s why it’s sad to move on, but I’m glad that I am. My assistant manager, after he found out I was leaving, shook my hand, gave me a hug, and said “Good.” That’s been everyone’s attitude… and mine, as well.
Funniest thing is, even after I’d put in my two weeks’ notice, good ol’ Lego decided to help me out one more time. Even though I’d redirected my aim towards the Montessori methodology, the idea of teaching had still been eroding in my mind. I love kids, and that isn’t the issue at all, but the notion of teaching has been progressively leaving me colder and colder. When I decided to leave the warm, regular comfort of working at Lego and started up at my new job, I actually fell into a bit of an emotional tumble. I was being faced with the reality of a career-future in which I had no idea where I wanted to steer myself. I took to reddit (/r/findapath), and received a number of great suggestions for non-teaching positions, but it was one in particular that stuck with me. I’m contacting local agencies and seeing what qualifications they look for, but if I hadn’t left Lego and gone through this minor emotional tailspin, I wouldn’t have been led to this new path. God does, as they say, work in mysterious ways 😉 .
So, thanks to everyone I’ve worked with or had the pleasure of meeting while working at Lego.. I’m on to bigger and better things, but by golly — I had a stinkin’ blast 🙂 .