It has only taken forty-one years, four children, one crap load of a marriage, my MBA and eight years of dedication to one company before there was a shift in the whirlwinds of my life. Prior to the last 3 years of my life I, Priscilla Long was complacent with how my life was unfolding. The jumping nerves in my eyelids and sudden increase in deep, jolting breaths reminded me that although I was complacent; I was not content. Things had to change. My life and all that it encompassed had to change. When I think about the number of hours that I spent crying out to the heavens it totaled to one hundred hours shy of a googol and boy oh boy did heaven hear my cries.
Five years ago from today I decided that I could take care of things by myself. My mother always spoke of me being able to take care of myself or so I thought since I was about 5 years old and much hadn’t changed since then in my book. I was then and still feel that I am able to take care of myself and my four children alone- by myself.
Mother raised me on her own with the help of the whooping weekly twenty-five dollars and eighty-three cents that my dad paid in child support and I turned out just fine. Just fine by whose standards…mine of course, especially since no other standards mattered at the present moment. Here I am forty-one years old working for a multi-billion dollar company; making what I would considered decent wages, seventeen dollars per hour and contemplating divorce. Awesome standards- yeah right!
The store manager hastily approached Priscilla and informed her that there were 2 store managers that would love for her to come and support them as a human resource manager. “The choice of course is yours. I just knew you would be amongst the most desirable candidates for the position”, says Kyle. “So, which store will you choose? Huh? Huh?” Kyle asking in his most annoying tone of voice. “I am not sure. Having a choice of where I want to work makes for a tough decision. There are so many things to consider,” stated Priscilla. “Such as shit like distance, pay, store current state, and headcount,” Kyle listed. Priscilla said through a sheepish grin, “Yeah, shit like that and who’s the store manager.” Harmonious laughter filled the small office space which was claimed as Kyle’s office of act right. “I know exactly which store you will choose as Jimmy is the store manager and you have always loved him,” Kyle exclaimed excitedly as if he had just solved the final Wheel of Fortune puzzle for twenty thousand dollars. “Thanks for making a tough decision not so tough. I will go with Jimmy’s store. At least there will be one familiar face in a store where the environment mimic the close knit community in which it was built.”
The first day in the store was full of unfamiliar faces, spaces and leery stares. Any level of trust for newcomers was nonexistent which I guess should have been expected. I completed about 4 laps around the store’s one hundred and eighty thousand square foot floor plan making sure that I introduced myself to all of the associates as well as some of the customers. Jimmy met me with a big bear hug and a yellow legal pad of paper. On the top page were the words “top priorities” in big bold letters. First priority was to call a meeting with all of the department supervisors to set my expectations. Second priority was to get to know the associates. My third priority was to get rid of those that should not have made it to their ninetieth day of employment. I scribbled, meeting to be held on Wednesday at four o’clock pm during the recurring, weekly staff meeting and placed a checkmark alongside of priority one.
I expected the tone of the meeting to be apprehensive as I had been informed that the introduction that preceded my arrival was one of intimidation. I asked myself, “How could Jimmy ruin my plan of rebranding myself”? I quickly became infuriated, but knew that I must calm down within the next five minutes as the clock read three fifty-five. I no longer wanted to live up to the nickname given to me by prior managers. Being the hammer- a hard ass is not how I wanted to jumpstart my sought out career. Human resources is an intimidating department all on its own.
Around the fourteen piece modular boardroom table set that mimicked a big open boat sat twelve department managers, the store manager and me. Each department supervisor introduced themselves by stating his or her name, the department that he or she supervise and the length of employment with the company. Jimmy followed their introductions by saying, “Ladies and gents, I would like to formally introduce you to our new in store human resource manager, Priscilla Long. Priscilla comes to us after being an assistant store manager for 8 years and completing her MBA in human resource management. I am more than sure that you will find a liking to her warmth and zero tolerance for bullshit.” The crowd did not roar with enthusiasm and I, well I was caught in a daze.
Not sure why he caught my eye as he was not drop dead gorgeous and I swear his eyes told of nothing but utter disgust for a newcomer. I glared passed his eyes and saw this tall slender man siting cater-cornered in his blood orange colored polo, slim fit, powder blue, denim Wrangler jeans and Ariat Men’s Nighthawk boots whom introduced himself as Stephen Corbin. By his getup I could tell that he was one of those southern, country boys and for some reason I was locked in to him. I found myself writing Stephen Corbin next to priority number three; retracing it until the paper was soiled with blue ink.