seems life is all about this huh? one door closing and another opening. endings and beginnings.
well this week i closed the door literally and figuratively.
Most of you know i worked at a scrapbook store. One of the few chain scrapbook stores. And on Wednesday i finished packing it up and closing the door forever. Yes, it was a little sad. And i was glad i had the last hour there to myself to look around (yes, and take pictures :-) - i always take pictures right?) and say goodbye. Close that door on this chapter in my life.
I started there a little over 4 years ago. I was at yet another crossroads in my life then. My brother had passed away unexpectedly in April of 2002. I needed to get back to work - i'd left another job right after he died. It wasn't for me. Had nothing to do with what i'm about but it did provide a paycheck and sometimes life requires you to do that right? I decided that life was passing me by - i could be dead tomorrow - siblings passing away kinda hits you in the face with facts like these. A new scrapbook store opened and i decided why not apply there and do something i actually like - what a concept huh? I did and got the job. I appeared for my first day of work at the end of November 2002.
Over the years there i met some wonderful co-workers and some wonderful customers. I could tell a million stories about the people. The good and the bad but i won't bore you with all those. Maybe one day - cos there are some tear jerkers and some jerks :-) I went through 3 managers and ended up becoming the manager for the last few months (i'd avoided being the manager like the plague as i have a very full life outside of work and being a manager wasn't going to fit in with my priorities - my family first).
The last month i will say was absolutely on the list of most difficult experiences in my life. (and as many of you know i've had some pips... 2 brain surgeries for my mom, my brother passing away... ) Both physically and emotionally.
Fortunately i had some really wonderful co-workers - they did their best to assist me in all ways possible and i really couldnt thank them enough.
My family stood by me - and believe me that was tough cos i wasnt in the best shape many days. Out of 31 days in January i stayed home for 3 days. I was exhausted (heck - i still am).
My husband - well he is just the best man in the world - i knew it before but he reaffirmed his superman status once again -his love, support and assistance - Imagine this - in his suit and tie with a hammer breaking down some fixtures that i didnt sell. I wish i'd had my camera that night but it will be indelibly etched in my memory. Never complaining - just that letsgetthisdone attitude. After a full days work of his own.
My son is, as you know, away at college but i know if he'd been here he'd have been right next to his dad :-) My teenaged daughter - every night i'd get home and she would ask me how i was and i just would look at her and she'd hold her hands out and give me a huge hug and kiss. I'm a lucky woman - aren't I? i mean most people are complaining about their teenagers - it is the time of life when one is most self-involved right? Well - not this kid. She is just amazing my lizziebelle. :-)
Onto the customers. I have to say i got a little exasperated at times. I guess its just my way but i dont think i would be asking employees of a closing store "where are you going now?" "are you going to work at that other store". It's just not something i would ask - it isn't any of my business - but i guess that's just me? Oh i'm not talking about the customers i knew well - i understood their concerns - and genuine interest in my well being. I'm talking about the people i barely ever saw shop in the store. I just thought it odd. whatever.
I heard the question "why are they closing" a ba-zillion times. What could i say - and really what would it matter? In the grand scheme of things - to their lives - what would it matter? Bottom line is we were closing - it really doesn't matter what their reasons were - they are a corporation and this is - simply put - business.
Of course for me - it was more than a business and more than just a store :-) And for some of the customers i know it was also more than a store. How do i know? well - this is the part where i'm gonna get all teary eyed again. So many wonderful customers - nay - friends - i made. Well i guess i just didnt realize. There are the special customers - the ones i would looked forward to seeing when they came into the store. Well apparently they felt the same way and took the time to let me know it. They came in and made sure they talked to me - and it was a crazy place the last two weeks - but they made sure i knew how much they'd miss the place - and me. We exchanged phone numbers, email addresses. They gave me their cards. They hugged me and cried and made me cry. :-) The good kinda cry. These women I will see again. I have no doubt. The one that really sent me over the edge was totally a surprise however. And so i will end this with that little story.
The store closed on Saturday. It was Monday or Tuesday. (it's a big blur now but the store had to be vacated on wednesday so i was definitely frazzled). I was working by myself at the time and was near the front of the store and i could see a woman walking through the parking lot towards the store. I thought "oh no.. someone coming to shop again" - this had happened since Sunday - people who apparently didnt know we were closing coming up and finding the store closed. Well as she got closer i recognized her. A lovely woman who had been shopping at the store probably not long after i began. Her oldest daughter was then 2 (now 6) and she was pregnant with the second. When i first met her she was just so very pleasant and wanted help with a few things - I recall her wanting these premade pocket pages we sold. We were out at the time and she wanted more - she was the kind of customer you just love to help. Anyway as i recall i told her we'd order them for her - she was concerned about picking them up by the time they came in as she was due with that second baby pretty soon. Anyway it all worked out just fine and i'd see her periodically throughout the years. Sometimes she'd bring a friend with her and they'd shop. As with many customers in the store, i watched her girls grow up. :-)
So - there she was at the door - and i mouthed through the glass - we're closed. She mouthed back "i know". I opened the door and she said to me "i just wanted to say goodbye and to thank you for all the help you've given me". Well i broke down there and just cried. She went on to tell me (while giving me a hug) i wanted you to know that - you were always so nice, with a big smile on your face, and you always helped me so much. You helped me save my memories for my girls. You made a difference."
So with that i'll end this. I should mention one other customer (another favorite) saying to me "where are am I going to go now? This was the place to go". And so it was.