Going to work with dad
Today, as I sit writing this article next to my seven-year-old daughter who is hanging with her dad as part of the national "Take Your Kids to Work Day" event, it takes me back to a time when my father, then an assistant manager at a supermarket, would take me with him to work. I’m not sure I realized it at that time (our trips started when I was about five), but I learned a lot about retailing and, more importantly, about my dad in the process.
One of the earliest lessons I learned was that retail is hard work. With the stores closed on Sunday because of blue laws, my dad used the time to build displays and fill open spaces on shelves. I wasn’t just an observer — I had to help him. And while stacking cereal boxes was no big deal, large cans of crushed tomatoes wore a little guy like me down.
I also learned retail hours stink. Here we were on Sundays sweating away in a store while my friends were out playing. Why did we have to work on Sunday when no one else was? He explained to me that people would be coming to the store looking for food the next day. How would I feel if my favorite food — hamburgers — were not in the store to buy? It was his job to make sure that people got all their favorites so they wouldn’t be sad or mad.
Speaking of mad, I also learned people skills were essential to success in retail. When speaking with customers, many of whom were not very happy, my father spent a lot of time listening and nodding his head before speaking. In the end, both the customers and my dad were smiling.
My dad had a great smile and a giggle laugh that was hard for anyone to forget. He displayed both a lot while he worked. I think it helped make customers feel welcomed and broke down boundaries with the people he managed.
Many years later, before he passed away, we spoke about the days when he took me with him to work. He smiled and told me those were fond memories. He also told me he wanted to show me the value of hard work and, hopefully, discourage me from following in his footsteps to work in retail — unless, he said, I really loved it.
Are retailers taking advantage of “Take Your Child to Work” day to recruit future generations of workers to the business? Can you relate any lessons you learned from going to work with Mom or Dad?