Goodbye to the Fruit Stand

I only have time for a short post today, but I couldn’t let the day pass without marking its significance in some way.

Today is a big day. Today marks the end of an era, the end of my last ties to the era of ED. Today is my last day at the “Fruit Stand.”

About two and a half years ago, I left New York City. I quit theatre. I purposely missed a Missed Connection. I got a job at a gym and let ED rock me to sleep at night. I planned to compete in a figure competition, and I lived a life in counted calories and panic attacks.

And then I got a job.

A job that was only supposed to hold me over while I tried to heal from ED. But the job I got became so much more. And it opened the doors to recovery in ways I never could have imagined.

I got a job at one of the best companies in the world, albeit a retail job in a store at the mall in my hometown. It was the same store that sold me my very first computer in the 10th grade, the “Super Sexy Mac.” It was a small, busy, crazy, store that became my home.

And the moment I found that home–and the people who became my family–was the moment that I saw a glimmer of a life without ED.

My first year at the Fruit Stand was full of victories and defeats. I learned how to learn on the fly and deal with ambiguity. I went from a first time retail employee to a Mentor (facilitating new hire & ongoing training and building a strong team of trainers to support the store and the market) to an Expert (in the top 25% of sales in the market). I made some incredible friends and started getting excited to leave the house again. I stayed out all night listening to punk bands play covers of the Spice Girls or singing karaoke with my coworkers. I moved into a beautiful little house. I stopped bodybuilding and started eating vegan. Things were not perfect, but, for a time,things were good.

Yes, I lost friends. Yes, I struggled to keep my work/life balance. Yes, I injured my ankle. Yes, I let veganism become a code-word for ED.

But from every dark cloud there comes the clichéd silver lining, and I have the Fruit Stand, in part, to thank for it.

When I visited my mom in California, I happened to visit all of the Fruit Stands in the area. Most were large and busy, and most of the employees with whom I spoke had only a few moments for a smile and a nod and a “welcome!” since they were in the middle of a major product launch.

But when I visited the Fruit Stand nearest to my mother’s house,the smallest Fruit Stand in the company, one of the managers invited me into the back of house, where I spent nearly twenty minutes with the employees who were on break or working on projects. I will never forget that moment–one of the employees showed me a video of the morning of the product launch; one of the employees talked to me about her experience with new hire training; one of the employees said, “You should come and work here.”

And I did.

I moved to California, away from my first home and into a second.

No, my job wasn’t perfect. No, life wasn’t aways sunshine and rainbows. No, I didn’t ultimately decide that retail was the perfect career for me.

But the skills that I gained, the friends that I made, the experiences and the growth that I’ve had…for all of that and more, I will be eternally grateful.

I am grateful for these last two years. I am grateful for every customer who shared his story with me. I am grateful for the managers who came to work loving their jobs every day. I am grateful for the too-small back of house and the chance to develop my business acumen and management skills while dodging merchandise and squeezing around boxes. I am grateful for the Mentor team and the Business team and the Expert team for teaching me to teach myself to grow. I’m even grateful for the weeks I spent learning how to do customer service over the phone (and for the advice my grandmother gave me: at the end of the day, you get to hang up, but the person on the other line still has to live with himself). I am grateful for the set backs, the frustration, and the stress. I am grateful for being pushed past my limits on a daily basis. I am grateful for every single person who influenced my life (in ways both good and bad), because they have helped me get to the place where I am today.

I am grateful for the Fruit Stand.

But now it’s time to move on.

Next time you see me, I’ll be a corporate copywriter, reporting to the VP of Marketing at an incredible start up in San Francisco.

Today is a hello and a goodbye, and I’m ready to turn one ending into a brand new, bright beginning.

– K.

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