Have you ever had an experience where the power of positive thinking and/or the power of prayer significantly and unexpectedly bettered some aspect of your life?
In my case, this involved my 30 year career in retail management / sales… 20 of those with company “A” and 10 with company “B”. Throughout that entire epoch my ability to cope with difficult to please superiors had been repeatedly put to the test. But one case, in particular, proved to be a Herculean task.
Her very initials, L.A.W., accurately summed up her laying down the law stance. While intrinsically, there’s nothing wrong with that, it was her poisoned with suspicion, management “style” that bordered on paranoia… her bad ‘tude, which made for a toxic work environment. It was her belief that no employee could possibly resist the temptation to ripoff both cash and merchandise from our company.
Her treating me like a criminal didn’t sit well. I had never stolen anything… not even a pen or paper clip. In addition to my personal integrity, I could take great pride in my qualities of courtesy, dependability, punctuality, efficiency and accuracy. Hell, I would’ve turned in an honest day’s work even if no manager had shown up. Ironically, my being a model worker only made her suspect me more. From her POV, that had to be an act, right? WRONG!
Well, soon after her arrival she rolled out her extreme internal security measures. Rather than allowing her to rummage through my brown paper lunch bag prior to my going out into the mall, I found it best to eat my lunch in the stock room. As for visits to the restroom? She had that locked up tight. Whenever anyone needed “to go” we’d have to ask her to escort us right up to the door!
My coworkers were feeling just as demeaned as I. One day while we were commiserating, clear out of the blue (and out of her earshot), I referred to LAW as “the can opener” and that nickname stuck. I could go on but I’m sure, by now, you’ve “breathed in” enough of her atmosphere of distrust.
Needless to say she was negatively impacting store morale. Even our District Manager could easily sense the undesirable undercurrents. Eventually, LAW got reassigned to another store and, soon after, put in her two weeks notice. I felt so relieved just knowing that our paths would never cross again?
By 1999, some big shot executive decided that the approaching new millennium meant time was ripe for a corporate shakeup. That restructuring took the wrecking ball to my low level management position… limiting my options to two. Either be demoted or take a hike. I chose the latter.
My transitioning to a new workplace turned out to be a lot easier than I’d expected. Company “B’s” store was in the very same mall… catercorner to Company “A”! Even better, I’d already worked for their store manager who, btw, had always wanted to add me to her staff. Alas, less than three years later, my old/new boss had moved on to greener pastures.
An even bigger ALAS… three years after that… guess who had come back to haunt me? Yep, none other than LAW!
Gossip being a big part of retail world, my colleagues soon discovered I had worked for her, before, and so I became the go-to guy to answer all their worried, “what’s she like” queries. Opting to remain professional, I’d refrain from any badmouthing. After all, I hadn’t seen LAW in years… maybe she had changed? Ergo, my noncommittal reply went something like this, “I can get along with almost anyone. If you can, too, there’ll be no problem.” But, hell, even I wasn’t totally buying into my pep talk.
Since I had accrued over two weeks worth of vacation time, I decided to go on a safari… a job hunting safari. It was following one particularly, exhausting day of interviews, when I opted for an early bedtime. Just as I was drifting off to sleep I went to my own go-to guy to ask…
“God, considering the dozens of retailers LAW had to choose from, why mine?”
The next morning, I awoke to a rapidly fading dream. Upon concentrating deeply, all the sudden my memory clicked. I had dreamt about a long ago conversation with my mother. We were trying to figure out how best to stop schoolyard bullies from making my life miserable. Since my principal was of the gruff, insensitive, “Just man up and take it, sonny!” mindset, there could be no help from him. That’s when Mom suggested I turn to a higher authority… the highest authority. She mentioned Matthew 5:44.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”
I now realized my problems with bully LAW could be dealt with similarly. I could even tap into my own submission of applications and resumes routine. This had to be quite similar to what LAW had just experienced! I began beaming my prayers upward, throughout all my remaining vacation days… especially between job interviews.
“God, won’t you please help my new boss LAW. There must be at least one other personnel manager who could make her a job offer she can’t refuse. Lavish her with better pay… a primo benefits package… a better 401K… the works! Nothing is too good for LAW!”
Well, I soon found myself glumly heading back to work… expecting the worst… yet… upon punching the time clock on my first day back… my grinning, assistant manager told me that, in my absence, there’d been a sudden shake up of the status quo.
Within mere days of hiring on, LAW had put in her two week’s notice! Seems, somehow (?), some way (?) she had gotten a much better job offer. Go figure, huh? Even better… since our four assistant managers were fully capable of running the store without her… our District Manager had decided to cut her free much sooner.
Bottom line, I never had to even cross paths with her… not even once… not so much as even a fleeting glance at each other… or in her case… her stock-in-trade, suspicious, “if looks could kill” glower.
Even my “failure” at finding a new job had to have been God’s way of preventing me from leaving Company “B”… something I had never really wanted to do.
While some might chalk up my experience to mere co-incidence, I’d say there’s much to be said for the power of positive thinking… the power of prayer.
Hmmm… all the sudden I find myself in an especially positive mood. So… uh… please excuse me while I head off to find a place of solitude… uh… to begin praying that a certain fake prez will get a much better job offer… preferably within the private sector.