A little over two years ago I saw a job listing in the classifieds for a Front End Manager at The People's Food C-op of Kalamazoo, I went to it's website as the listing requested, read the job description a about the co-op and decided, this job was pretty much made for me, so, I filled an application out, took it to this teeny tiny store downtown Kalamazoo and hoped for the best. After a couple of weeks, I got a call from the general manager of the co-op, hoping to give me a phone interview, at the time my schedule was pretty crazy, between the job I had and a play I was rehearsing, so the GM, Chris, and I played phone tag for quite a few days, finally we got on the phone with each other and I participated in the most pleasant interview I've ever had, at the end of it, Chris invited me to come in for a face to face panel interview with the entire management staff at the co-op. I was ecstatic.
The job I had at the time was VERRRRRY part-time and not fulfilling in the least and this co-op job seemed like a job I could really care about and sink my teeth into.
Finally the day came for my interview, I walked into the co-op's small store front, was greeted by an extremely friendly cashier, who let Chris know that I was there, I was informed that I would have to wait for a bit, so, I read some of the information that was out about the co-op, I was intrigued, I had never been inside a co-op and I, like most of the general public, thought it was some kind of hippie place, but as I read more information, I became more convinced that this job was mine and psyched myself up for this interview, I interview REALLY well, and I know it.
Finally Chris retrieved me and told me we would be descending into the basement for the interview, as we walked down the set of seemingly ancient, creaky stairs, into the dark, cave-like basement,I smelled the mix of all the herbs that were stored there in "herbland", as we called it, I made myway to the sitting area and sat down to begin the most important and life-changing job interview of my life.
I sat down with the entire management staff, I was nervous, they were studying me, asking me a very complex set of questions, and I couldn't tell if I was impressing anyone, I wasn't even sure how best to answer the questions I was being asked, I was reaching for answers.
At the end of my one hour interview, I felt a little shell shocked, but I was even more convinced that I HAD to get this job, the co-op was expanding and they need a Front End Manager to help them do that, a prospect that thrilled me, as I had helped open many a coffee shop in my day and I loved the chaos of that kind of work. I walked out to the van I was driving at the time, I had gotten a parking ticket. I wasn't sure if this was a bad sign or not, because usually after an interview I could tell whether I had the job or not, this time, I wasn't so sure. A few days later I got a call from the co-op, asking me to come in for a working interview. Aworking interview? I'd never had a working interview before, what's that all about? I arrived for my working interview and was greeted by Rosie, the Produce Manager and interim Front End Manager, she would be conducting the working interview, Rosie gave me a little tour of the store, and set me to work, washing dust off of the shelves, this was a challenge, as the co-op was in a very small space and I had to ensure I didn't get in any customers' way as I cleaned. Once I completed the task, Rosie had me start ringing customers up, a job I excelled at, as customerservice is my forte. Once the interview was over, I went home, feeling triumphant. it had goone well, I thought...maybe. What a process to go through to get a job, but I felt decure with their system, I was sure it ensured that they found the right people.
Finally I got The Call, Chris called to offer me the position as Front End Manager! I was beside myself! A real job! At a super cool place!
The first few months of my employment at the co-op wer rocky, I really wanted to do well and uphold the standards and systems the co-op had in place, while helping the Management team plan the impending expansion pro ject.
Then I got pregnant.
I found out I was pregnant in March of 2011 and the expanded co-op was set to open in May of 2011, so by the time the baby came we would have been in the new space for a few months and settled in pretty well, it seemed that the timing was perfect.
As the expansion dates came closer my job expanded along with my waistline, as the human Resources Coordinator and hiring Manager, I was constantly interviewing and training new employees, a job I loved. It seemed the closer we got to the expansion, the better I got at my job, nrever before had I loved a job as much as I loved mine, I looked forward to going to workaverday, a rare luxury I had never experienced before, my jop had a purpose and did somwthing great for my community.
The expansion went off without a hitch. The first few days in the new space were hectic to say the least, but satidfying, it was great to work with such a great team.
Then my blood pressure spiked.
Things started getting complicated when I became hypertensive halfway through my pregnancy, and the co-op supported me and helped me through all of it, they were always flexible whever I was told by a doctor that I couldn't wor for an extended span of time, even I pretty much had to be at work all of the time, luckily, I had an extremely capavle Lead Cashier to be me when I wasn't there.
Then I had a stroke....and a baby.
I can't think of any other jov I've had that would have supported me after my stroke the way the co-op has, Rosie came to the hospital on the night of the stroke, because I asked for her. The co-op set up a system for bringing me lunches while I was in rehab ondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. My Lead Cashier took over running the Front End during the busiest time of year(Thanksgiving) and the transition, by all accounts I've heard, was seamless. The co-op has also allowed me to come back and work, something that has been pricekess to me, working not only increases my stamina, my cogitive ability and my confidence. Even though I was unable to step back into my role asFront End Manager, many of the people I hired are still there and have moved up in the ranks, which makes me proud.
I counmyself lucky to live in a town with such a great co-op and to have a job as supportive and helpful as I do. We all should be so lucky.