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09 February 2016

A moment in my shoes

Hello friends
Hope all is well with you

So as you guys know, I started my new job at the end of January with Starbucks and it's a completely different experience then when I was in the Army. Yesterday was a perfect example of that.

this is actually a picture of my store
I went in to work shortly before noon, I still can't get out of the habit of being at least 15 minutes early even though I can't start until right at whatever time my shift starts, got my tea, and went into the back to put on my apron and everything. Oh, I got my new aprons back finally. The only difference is I have a little American flag, my name, and Army veteran stitched on the front. Everyone else's is just a plain apron with a little metal name tag. Everything was working alright, well as alright as things can be when you're thrown on the front counter for the first time without help. Everywhere else I've worked in the store I've had someone shadowing me and being there when I have questions.... not so much yesterday. We were understaffed and low on product, waiting for the delivery truck which didn't come until after 4 p.m.

I only made two errors when inputting the drinks into the computer, but surprisingly that was it. I am quite proud of myself and I even got pretty quick on inputting some of the orders. I did have to ask for help occasionally and some of the girls were really helpful and patient about it. The only one who wasn't was just having a bad day and was stressing so I didn't really hold it against her every time she snapped at me. She later apologized, even after I told her not to worry about it, insisted that it was something that needed to be apologized for. I let her have it.

Although I was only officially diagnosed  with fibromyalgia last year, that say that it started after basic training when I didn't receive the proper care that I should have. Not a surprise. I've dealt with the pain and discomfort for over 5.5 years with minimal medication because with Army ATC, you couldn't take much medication. Even though I have been a civilian for over a month now, I still don't take medication as much as I need too. There is one medication that I take daily, without fail, and that's my acid reflux medication... because without it I can't function well. I take my allergy medication when I can't breathe or stop sneezing, but otherwise I don't take medication like I should. Partially because I have a high pain tolerance and partially because I just forget to take it.... thanks Army for making that one possible... sarcasm implied.

Like I mentioned, we were a little understaffed yesterday and I came in when it was busy, so I didn't get my 10 minute break when I was supposed to. I didn't mention it for an hour because we were busy and I needed to get a bunch of stuff done for our store to run smoothly.... and every time I wanted to, customers would come in. Plus, this is my first day not being in training... I don't really think I have much to complain about.

I was very open with my manager about why I was medically retired from the Army during my interview. My mother told me that all I needed to say was I completed my contract and decided to get out, no one needed to know that I was medically retired. My manager was very understanding about everything, so I made sure that she was aware that I do suffer from a chronic pain disorder, but I do my best to not let it stop me. So about an hour and a half after my scheduled break was missed, I asked my shift leader if I could take my 10 minute break. My left leg was killing me and it was incredibly painful to put any weight on it. It was a mix of a sharp stabbing pain when I put my weight on my leg and a consistent throbbing pain when I didn't. I just needed to sit down for a few minutes and relax. I completed the tasks that my shift leader asked me too and I was allowed on my break and thought nothing of it.

Until later on. My manger had called the shift leaders in for a meeting and I tried my best not to pay attention to their discussion while they were using my manager. I even went and helped my pregnant coworker clean up a mess she accidentally made because I didn't want her moving the mini fridge (she is 3 weeks from giving birth). When they walked over, they were discussing some new system my manager was putting in place and revolved around breaks. She had made a comment about how people can suck it up if they don't get a break because we're busy because her and the shift leaders often miss breaks so we can have our breaks, and how some baristas think their job is so hard. This caught my attention. I was wondering if she was saying it within my ear shot because I had asked for a break earlier and someone had complained about the new girl asking for a break. This bothered me, but I wasn't going to interrupt their meeting and I had things to do and a mess to assist in cleaning up. But it was eating at me. Was that her subtle way of telling me something without calling me out on it? Or was I reading too much into it?

I talked to my roommate about it while we were making dinner, I didn't get home until 7 pm and her about a half hour later then me. After talking with her, I decided that I wanted to clarify it with my manger incase there was a misunderstanding on either side. I know that she hadn't told anyone else about my chronic pain disorder because she felt that it wasn't their business to know, and I don't want special treatment from anyone or any pity when they find out about this pain... because there are some people that are over sympathetic and it drives me nuts! So I texted her and asked her if I could talk to her today at work about something that was said during my shift.  She has told me from the start that I can always text her if I have any questions or concerns, and texting may be more efficient because she can't always answer a phone call. She finally texted me back asking me to call since we both might have forgotten by the time I worked today. 

I called her and let her know that while I hadn't meant to overhear a conversation, they were using my register and it was kind of inevitable. I told her about the comment and asked her if someone had complained when I asked to take a break today. I told her that I had only asked because of my leg and I wanted to make sure there was no miscommunication amongst her, me, and the shift leaders. Apparently I made her feel bad because of what she said. She had in no way meant that towards me and it was just coincidence that I had asked for a break earlier and that she had made that comment near me. Apparently there are other partners who don't use the downtime between the customer rushes to clean up their stations and then want to ask for a break. She noticed that I always cleaned up after myself, was doing a great job (her words, not mine) on my training, and that I wasn't a problem. She appreciated that I had called to clarify because she didn't want me to stew on it, and told me that if I ever need to sit down for a minute because of my pain, to just let her or a shift leader know, and if there was a problem, to let her know.

I really appreciated that. Firstly, I appreciated the fact that I felt that I could talk to her about a concern like that and feel that she really would take me seriously. That she wouldn't take it as I was just whining and complaining, but that it was something that needed to be addressed. I didn't have that feeling in the Army. They made me feel like I just had to suck it up and move on through it, which is sometimes easier said then done. I do that when I can, but yesterday reached the point that I really just wished that I could cut my leg off below the knee to make the pain stop. Secondly, I just appreciated the fact that she cared. That is another big thing to me. Even though I am one person of about 20 people working in our store, and the newest hire, she actually cared about my wellbeing (and feelings) to clarify the whole coincidence. Thirdly, it was late, after 10 pm that she asked me to call so that way neither one of us forgot today to talk about it. She had just worked a long day at work, unloaded all the stuff that was brought in by the delivery truck, did the inventory, and still made a little time to have a conversation with me about a concern of mine.

She's leaving us in March or May to go work in Raleigh (school and roller derby I think) and I worry that whoever replaces her might not be as understanding. For now though, I do appreciate that I have a manager that does understand. She knows that I won't take advantage of her understanding when I am feeling lazy and don't want to do anything. She knows that I have already demonstrated that I am a hardworking individual, willing to learn as much as I can and still help my coworkers when I can. She knows that I don't complain, whether someone is snapping at me for no reason or I am struggling with what I am learning. This is a lot different from the Army, obviously. There are some things I miss about the Army and some aspects I like better about working in the civilian world. 

I spend every day in some amount of pain, and for the most part it's still manageable thanks to a high pain tolerance and the fact that I couldn't take medication while in the Army. What I consider manageable, some people don't think they could handle it (I've discussed it with old coworkers and friends). This is both a blessing and a curse because now, there are times where I should seek help and don't... times I push myself way past my limit (my last trip to Disney comes to mind where I walked the first half of the day before asking for a wheelchair, and I really shouldn't have walked that much). My leg is still throbbing today and the hardest part is that it's in my shin and ankle, and there isn't much I can do about it, not like I can when it's just my knee.


It's just nice to know that she cares.