The best job I’ve ever had.

From PBR to Caviar, they’ve got it all.

When I was interviewing for my current job at the Graduate Hotel Chapel Hill, formerly the Franklin Hotel, I was asked the typical questions about past experience. They asked me about the various skills and situations that prepared me for a job as a server. But one of the final questions of the interview was: “What’s the best job you’ve ever had and why?”

Without hesitation, I said “my time at Conner’s”.

It was my first job and I clearly stand by it being the best. No offense to any jobs I’ve had since.

I remember being nervous/excited when I was able to get my first job. When I was fourteen, on my first day of eighth-grade Spring Break, I walked the 1.2 miles from my house to Conner’s Supermarket and asked for a job application. My mom made me go in and make it official, even though I had basically been a member of the Conner family since I was born. From family events to holidays and weekly Survivor watch parties growing up, it was almost expected for me to work at Conner’s, but I still actually had to get the job.

After filling out my application and having my “interview” with Angie and Becky in the back office, I was hired and started the following day for stock at 6 am.

Anyone who knows anything about working at Conner’s knows that being a Stock Kid is your right of passage. You have to pay your dues, getting up at the crack of dawn to unload the truck and stock shelves, followed by spending the rest of the afternoon straightening shelves until they were perfect. Even though lifting dog food or moving palettes of water could be tough work, every Tuesday the Conner/Tawes/Salyers family would cook lunch for everyone. There wasn’t a day Miss. Rauna’s Texas Sheet Cake couldn’t fix.

I worked at Conner’s for almost six years and learned everything from grocery store layouts to dealing with all different sorts of people.

Conner’s has been a Hatteras Island staple since 1959 and is still run by the same amazing family that opened it. The amazing history of this beautiful family and their entrepreneurial spirit can only be told by them, so I’ll just link their website here.

Store Front
I know I’ve made it home when I drive past that beautiful green building!

Because Conner’s has held its ground as one of the only grocery stores on the island, it can easily be one of the busiest places in town on any given day. Especially during the summer or on a Sunday after church. (Sunday’s were my days when I worked during the school year. I had my regulars and I loved shooting the bull with people at the register over coffee and the Sunday Pilot.)

But that’s why I think it’s the best job I’ve ever had. Those long summer days and quiet Sunday mornings, dealing with tourists from all over the world and locals I’ve known forever. The problem-solving I learned on the fly shaped me into the student and person I am today.

I truly think there is no better job to prepare you for your future than a job in customer service, and being a cashier at a supermarket means you interact with people constantly. There were days in the summer when I could process someone’s AMEX Black Card for thousands of dollars worth of groceries, just for one week of vacation. And sometimes in that very same afternoon, I would help someone count out the change for the necessities that their EBT card wouldn’t cover.

That’s the type of training you can’t get in a classroom or from a seminar. The values of compassion, patience, and communication were learned in that building and with those people.

Not only is this a post about the lessons I’ve learned from the first job I ever had, but it’s also a thank you letter to the family that gave me that job. I went from being the energetic kid singing Jack Johnson in the car on the way to dance with one of their daughters, to babysitting the next generation of Conners. So without a doubt, I have to say thank you to Mr. Johnny, Ms. Rauna, Angie, Becky, Little Johnny, Neil, and Travis for raising me, and to the rest of the people I worked with during my time at The Store. I cherish y’all forever.

Now for the infamous Blog Post Playlist™. In the store, we always listened to Sirius XM and the 80’s on 8 channel is one I can remember so vividly. I was definitely known to bust a move in the aisles on and off the clock. (There’s probably video footage of it somewhere.) So please enjoy one of my favorite 80’s playlists on Spotify while you ponder the best job you’ve ever had.

 

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