Monday, June 3, 2013

The best job I ever had

Alma New Brunswick is a small village, boasting a meager population of around 300 people. It's home to the highest tides in the world, Fundy National Park, and a slew of unique local business, including the Octopus' Garden Cafe and Kelly's Bake Shop (sticky buns, anyone?).

It's also home to some great memories for me, since it's the village I was raised in, and where my husband Brad was raised as well. One fateful summer I took a job there, a literal five minutes before being offered another one, and that job became the best I've ever had.

I've had a lot of great jobs in my time--one of them I'm working right now. I've also worked as a Barista and a kids' program coordinator.  The best job I've ever had wasn't glamorous, or, at its core, that unique. The best job I ever had was working as a cashier at the only gas station in Alma, NB: The Fundy General Store.

I love people. I always have. Growing up, though, I was a little more reserved than most. I got picked on and bullied. I was kind of weird. I was a vegetarian in a fishing village. To say I wasn't a part of the crowd was a bit of an understatement, but I tried to own that, and tried my best to pleasantly surprise people. When the owner of the General Store took a chance on hiring me, he later told me he was glad he had.

After my first couple of days of work, I learned the ins and outs of the POS system and got familiar with some of the regulars who would come in for coffee. Some of them were surprised to see me there, as they'd always seen me as the strange quiet girl who would take walks in the village, and not make many public appearances beyond that.

At work, my duties didn't go too far beyond dealing with customers and brewing coffee, and I liked it that way. When the store got really busy, particularly on Saturdays and sunny summer days, we would sometimes have customers lined up literally all the way around the store. In addition to being the only gas station in town, we were also the only liquor store in town. We also had a number of campers' amenities, such as firewood. We had a lot of things people wanted.

Being a huge tourist area brought in all kinds of unique people from all around the world. I got to meet people who were on their own life journeys: off on a six-month hiatus from their responsibilities, or simply on vacation with their families. It was a very introspective period for me. It taught me what I wanted out of life, and I still managed that while juggling it as a full-time job.

That's not to say it didn't get a little stressful sometimes. It is to say, however, that I managed to get a lot done without worrying about work too much. I got a lot of writing and hiking done because of my schedule, and because the work that we did there was never draining or exhausting. My boss liked to work us on a rotating schedule--one week I would work opening shifts, and the next week I would work closing shifts. He would give us the same days off all summer. On top of it, he was an amazing boss in general. He never yelled and never gave us a hard time. If we were doing something wrong, he would quietly pull us aside, tell us what it was and to stop, and that was that. He would never do this in front of other workers or customers.

Some people might be surprised that working in a gas station could be so enjoyable, but it really was. There was a great vibe and the boss had a knack for hiring the right people. Of course, we didn't always get along, but we came pretty close.

Alma's a beautiful village, too, and very scenic. Every day that I was on the front cash I could simply turn around and look out the window to be met with a view of the Upper Salmon River.

I worked that job for three summers, and I still look back on those times fondly, especially when summer begins.

If you have any interesting jobs you've had that you'd like to share, feel free to contribute in the comment section. I'd be interested to hear!

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