Whether you celebrate Single Awareness Day, Love Safely Day, or a new one this year, Generosity Day, it’s still February 14th in my book. In my world, Valentine’s Day represents the first time that I kicked ass and proved myself in a work environment.
My first job story
Valentine’s Day is the number one holiday for the flower industry. But it’s an even bigger day if it falls mid-week as lovers from all walks of life need to send something to their loved one on that day to build up for the big date on the weekend.
In high school, I worked at a flower shop. It’s a local empire that has a retail arm plus it’s own wholesale business that produces bouquets, elaborate vase arrangements, potted plant baskets, and more. A friend of mine got be the job and we started by only working on Sundays in the warehouse, processing flowers that came in boxes locally and internationally. From there I moved to the “Cuts” department, making bouquets for the retail stores and distribution to local grocery chains.
Valentine’s Day means “all hands on deck,” and in 2003 V-day fell on a Wednesday. Picture this chaos: a rent-a-cop was on duty doing parking control so that frantic customers wouldn’t just pull up, hop out of their car, rush into the store and rush out.
I was working in the warehouse at this time, but was asked to help at one of the stores. My role was to tame the buckets and buckets of bouquets and cut flowers on display outside in front of the store and consolidate the display as merchandise was purchased. I spent the entire evening running out the back door of the shop to the front and back again, pulling more bouquets from the cooler, and discretely dumping out the water of the empty buckets. I saw the store manager maybe once the entire evening.
Lines and lines of people poured in and out of the store. Piles and piles of petals went out, wrapped neatly in tissue. Money was exchanged, receipts tallied, and at the end of the evening there was nothing left.
Before closing for the night, the store manager made her first trip to the front of the store. Everything was under control. I don’t remember her exact sentiment, but she was absolutely shocked by how she didn’t have time to even check the front.
It was a success and my first impression with her.
If you have to buy flowers on Valentine’s Day
For the love of all things retail, buy local.
I received an email from friends about the abusive practices of 1-800-Flowers and how workers on flower fields in Central and South America do not have any rights at all. It’s crazy and I didn’t realize that fair trade extended to this industry (but why shouldn’t it?).
I’m not saying boycott the flower industry, just be smart. If you have to buy flowers, purchase from your local flower shop and at least make a ripple in your own economy. Or do research and find a shop that supports your own values and ideas.
Also, skip the roses. Wholesale prices for flowers get jacked up in the weeks leading up to February 14th and your local flower shop has to pass on the price to stay in business. And most often than not, these roses are not top quality due to the season and demand.
Get creative with a lily or Gerbera daisy ensemble. Bonus, buy something that’s not red. Or get even more creative and splurge on something like a cactus.
And for the love of the green thumb, never, ever get baby’s breath.
Back to my point
By doing what I felt I needed to do that day to get the job done inspired the store manager to request that I work at that store on a regular basis. It was the best interview and impression I could have left.
When given the opportunity to prove yourself—be it through a project or a simple task—just do it. Results speak louder than words.
Make it your goal to leave the only impression, the best one.
Do you remember the first time you kicked ass at work or in a professional environment?
Share your story.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk