Saturday, April 27, 2013

4675 Days At Kroger

12 years, 6 months, 11 days of my life.
Farewell to Chad party from Kroger 
I sat in my car and called Kellie to tell her that I decided to quit. Surely AK Steel would call me this week to offer me my job. It was the fall of 2000, and I had been working for the Kroger Company for just over a week. I was sure that I was done. This company was not for me.

They had shipped me out to Greenfield, Ohio where I was to assist in the grande opening of a new store.  Caleb had been born only a few weeks earlier and my wife was home alone with him. 

Kroger had given me an option of going to Greenfield or resigning. I had expressed my opposition to staying in Greenfield for a week and my supervisor had shown me a stack of candidates who were willing to replace me. I apologized and went to work.

Essentially I was a shelf stocker and a cleaner. This was not what I had signed up for. Just a few months prior I had been a mental health professional in the state of Indiana... but life had taken a turn.

I sat in my car and received a reality check as my wife reminded me that she was on sick leave, my son was only a month old, Kroger provided me a paycheck and insurance, and I'd better realize that I needed this job for my family.

Having received my scolding, I sheepishly tucked the phone back into my pocket and stepped out of my car. I slipped back into one of the side doors, walked back the to the toy aisle and found my name badge below the Hot Wheel pegs. I picked it back up and fastened it back to my shirt. 

I had quit and returned... no-one had noticed.

That was 12 and a half years ago. I have been co-manager, program roll-out coordinator, Seafood Merchandising Representative, Meat Representative, Meat/Seafood Coordinator, and Food Manager.

Today I was greeted by Barb Griffis as she walked through the door of my going away luncheon. She was my first interview with Kroger. My entire career here was possible because she called me for an interview and flagged me as a "Yes" for a second interview.  I remember those days, and I remember being told that I was not a typical Kroger candidate... they asked me to make the case as to why I might be Kroger material.

Kroger liked business majors and advertising majors. I was a Psychology major with experience in churches and mental health. After two interviews and 3.5 hours later... I was offered a position with Kroger.

This was a job that I never really wanted and never really felt comfortable doing. And yet... it taught me what I needed to learn. 

Stick-to-it-ed-ness, patience, discernment, flexibility, compassion, and yielding to the control of my superiors. I had to learn that I wasn't always right, and even if I was... I still had to yield to the desire of my supervisor. Customers aren't always right, but they get their way anyway.

I was taught that "the little sh*t makes all the difference" and that "if you can't get it done, I don't need you." I learned that it was my job to simply "make it work" and that excuses were like butt-holes... everyone has them.

I learned to suck up my ego, lift my perspective above my circumstance, and somehow find joy and happiness in the living of my day. People, relationships, and how we all walk through life together trumped any corporate troubles or petty annoyances. 

I learned that life was about taking the day and living belief in the moment. I learned to share my faith and walk my belief with those whom I shared my hours.

Today as people I had worked with through the decade plus walked through the door to shake my hand or give me a hug... I realized that this time spent at Kroger was time well invested. I had grown as a person to be at this place today.

Barb Griffis, Russ Umberg, Randy Brandt, Bryan Foltz, Mike Martz, Christy, Sue, Jim, Nakeya, George, Dru, Mike, Heather, Erin, Trina, Skye, Pam, Terri, Cassandra, Mel... you all helped me realize how blessed we all were these past few years and months.

I am thankful to have been a part of this team. I am grateful to the lessons that I needed to learn. I am deeply appreciative of your affections and your kindness to my family. 

I am privileged to have been a part of this Kroger family, and I am thankful to take each of you with me as my family is faithful to our calling. 

Now that the timing of God is right... I have made my exit from Kroger. 

45 days and we will be serving in Guatemala. God is good. Thank you all, for walking these days as I found my way.

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