What do I want to be when I grow up?!
Silly question to be asking when you are 44? Maybe, but it is the question that I had to ask myself after returning from a funeral this past weekend in my hometown.
I am in no way making light of this funeral or any funeral, however I have been to too many funerals these past 3 months, that I need to find a “lighter” or more “humorous” side to these events without taking away the seriousness of them. When you carry good old fashioned Russian, Italian and Catholic guilt around with you, you would/could never make light of a funeral!!
Funerals, by definition are a sad event. Funerals when your career is in retail, can add a whole new dimension to the sadness.
When you are at the funeral of a loved one, attending a funeral for a friend’s loved one, or I guess just attending any funeral, you are going to be in a pretty subdued and sad state. Nature of the beast, as it were. Now, depending on how close the person was to you, or how close to someone you love, could swing the “sadness pendulum” that much more. For the most part – just sad any way you slice it.
When you are going back to a funeral in your home town that you have not lived in 25 years, it can add a whole new level of sadness to it, especially when it comes to what you do. Let me explain….
I went back on a Friday to attend a Saturday funeral for my Unlce; My Dad’s brother. I was asked by my cousins to perform the eulogy which I was honored to do so. I started the eulogy off with an introduction of myself. I had not lived in my hometown for many years and I have changed a bit; and since this was an elder, my uncle was 82, many of the older attendees might not remember me as they have all aged considerably; memories will fade with age; just the way it is.
After the service was over and we returned from the cemetery, we attended the reception at the church. This is where you reacquaint yourself with many people who are now into their late 70’s and even early 90’s and you have not seen in many years. Wonderful people and happy to see you and happy to see how much you have grown. Quite touching.
“Kenny, How many kids do you have, where do you live, how long are you here, my how nice you look” etc…. You are feeling good and warm inside.
Then comes the dreaded question, “So Kenny, what do you do in Vancouver?”
At first, a pretty innocent question. I figure, I did my 5 years university, relatively smart guy, great wife, awesome kids, nice home in East Van; life is pretty damn good!! Those thoughts run through your mind for the second it takes before you answer, “I work for London Drugs”.
“Oh, that’s nice. Are you a Pharmacist?”
The reply is usually a quick, “ No I am not”. Before you can go into this further, “Oh, then you must own the store; that’s a good boy. I knew you would do well. We are so proud of you”
You are never to sure if you should go further or just leave well enough alone, but you must go on and give the standard reply, “I work for London Drugs. I am a buyer at Head Office.”
Talk about a line that can deflate a Zeppelin!
The look is always the same.
It’s the “Wow”, I thought you went to school look and became something “real”, like a Doctor, Lawyer, Plumber or Electrician (Trades or big Professions only!). Then it goes into, the son, daughter, niece, nephew, friend of anyone etc… that has achieved the higher levels in life that have obviously eluded you! You know; the “true jobs”. Then the look just turns to a slight disappointment and then sorrow – and you are back at the funeral portion of the day.
Ok, this is obviously a slight exaggeration, The sorrow part does not really take place! If it did – even I would not read this!!!
However, there is most definitely a level of, or maybe a sense that you get of; non-accomplishment, when you say that you are in retail. The status that retail once carried has even slipped away from the older generations. Retail is not in the ranks of the “desired careers”.
That’s too bad.
Whether you are in front line of the stores, or in the offices buying for, or selling to, or in the numerous other areas that fuel the machine “retail”; retail can be an exciting and fun career.
Retail sales in Canada were $425 Billion in 2008 – not a small number. In fact about ¼ of the countries GDP that year. Retail is big!!
Retail sales are the number one economic indicator that we use as a gage as to how good, bad or indifferent we are doing as a country.
When you look at it that way and think of all of the ways retails impacts your life; you will not be able to go a day without being in a retail environment or having something from a retail environment being part of your day. From the foods we eat, to clothes we wear, to the places we frequent for entertainment and on and on and on!
Ya – I know – I am not a doctor and saving lives! I am not a lawyer and…and…and…doing whatever lawyers do to make society better etc….(little joke to my lawyer friends- LOL!!)
I am a retail buyer. I get to pick products that I think can make a difference in people’s lives. Provide people with a chance at a better life.
I can buy products that are Gluten Free or P-Nut free so that kids and adults alike can enjoy “fun foods” like cookies and cereals again.
I get to buy vitamins and nutritional snacks that make for a better and hopefully for a longer life.
I know it’s not as big as some professions – but it does serve an important purpose!
What am I trying to say? I think the main things are this: don’t be ashamed to be in retail and don’t be ashamed to have “only achieved retail”. Retail is the backbone of the country.
When I grow up – I am going to be in retail!!!
Check out these sights to consider your career in retail: