One day while leaving our local WalMart store, I bumped into the son of a woman I know at church. He was retrieving shopping carts from the parking lot. I greeted him and we exchanged the usual niceties; “hi, how ya doin’?” and so forth. That’s when he began to complain about his job.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
He explained that his boss is unfair and keeps lying to him. When I pressed with further questions, I learned that he had been promised that the parking lot duty was the path toward promotion to inside sales work. Yet, every time there was an opportunity, his boss overlooked him and promoted others who had less experience.
I have been an employer so I knew what the problem was immediately. I asked him, “Do you really want to be promoted?” I asked.
“Yes, I do!” he responded.
So I suggested that he might go look at himself in the mirror and then make some appropriate changes before he goes back to talk to his boss. Of course he objected with the same old drivel that I’ve heard hundreds of times before, “I shouldn’t be judged by how I look; he should judge me on my abilities.”
That’s when I blew him out with some of my favorite rants. “Look!” I said, “I’m going to tell you something that your employer is NEVER going to tell you because he doesn’t want to face employment discrimination problems. But this is the truth. This company is in business to sell merchandise to its customers. The employees are the face –to-face contacts with the clients. They represent the company to the customers. Frankly, YOU ARE NOT RELATEABLE TO THE PEOPLE IN THIS COMMUNITY WHO SHOP IN THIS STORE. YOU ARE SCARY LOOKING. Your boss is going to keep you out of sight until you change, or quit, or until he has a good reason to terminate you.
“So if you really want a better job, then show some respect to your boss and the customers. Do not ever come back to work looking like that. Go get a haircut, lose the purple and green coloring, and then get some adult (long) pants, pull them up around your waist and use a belt. And take the studs out of your tongue and ears. Then, after a couple weeks, if an opportunity arises, go in to your boss and tell him how much you want to do a good job for him. He might not promote you but in your present condition, he will never promote you.” (By the way, I said all that in love.)
The following Sunday morning at church, I spotted his mother coming toward me in the parking lot. “Mr. Petersen, may I talk to you?” she asked.
I really thought she was going to tell me off.
“I just want to thank you. I don’t know what you said to my son but he got a haircut this week and he cleaned himself up for work.”