Dear Green Dream Team,

GG
Image by A Letter Per Person. Image Description: A green silhouette of a tree with many leaves coming out. There is a shopping cart stuck in the top of the tree and a black silhouette of a cat ready to climb the tree.

Dear Green Dream Team,

I could sit here and try to figure out every possible combination of the English language that would equate to me thanking all of you. While that would be an amazing feat, it still wouldn’t be enough to capture just how grateful and in debt I am to each and every single one of you. I think that that’s because there are only a finite string of words I could put together but my feelings are infinite.

This was the first time I had been put in a supervisor role, a role I initially didn’t even apply for. But for all of you to trust and challenge me with such an important position in the store, I knew I couldn’t let any of you down. And of course, everyone made sure I rose to the challenge: from small gestures like clueing me in on our sales reports, to showing me the art behind simultaneously saying what you mean and what customer want to hear, and teaching me the politics of business of working as colleagues while still maintaining the love within our work family.

I know there was a lot of drama with customers and even within the staff but I can honestly say that all of it was a treasured experience and one I very much needed. There were days when I was extremely agitated by customers or annoyed by one of you, but that’s work. That’s what being in a team is. We all have different personalities and we occasionally butt heads because what we believe is best for the store and how we pursuit it can differ. But at the end of the day, that’s all we want: the best for the store, our work place, and our team. That’s why I can wholeheartedly say that despite those days I went home exhausted and passed out by 7pm, those days I just need some cat therapy at the end of my shift and avoided talking to anyone, despite all the nitty gritty drama, I loved working here and with all of you.

I had never worked with so many people who were older than me outside of an office setting as well. I only bring up age because all of you carry such incredibly vast journeys and wisdom with you wherever you go. I can see it in the way each of you work, talk, carry yourself, and because you wear your hearts on your sleeves and are never afraid to be true to yourself. That is by far the best lesson I could’ve been taught: to never stop being true to yourself whether that means being a little vulnerable in front of your sons sometimes, or leaving a job you loved so much because you were treated unfairly, to putting yourself at risk to protect what and who you love, to never lashing out in emotional retaliation when someone, even a co-worker, is yelling at you, and so much more.

The way all of you, regardless how many years of experience you have or what your position was at the store or our age difference, all of you treated me so genuinely and honestly, without dumbing down or sugar-coating anything, and I am so eternally thankful for that. It showed you believed in me, what I had to offer as a worker and person, and my potential to grow. This was monumental for me because there were many days where I couldn’t even do those things for myself. To be loved in that way by good-hearted people who I have grown to look up to gave me confidence in who I am and guidance in the kind of person I want to be without losing myself. I know all of you must have come across many, many interesting people throughout your life and I am truly honoured that you have seen me as one of the good ones.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your team, for saying that I will always have a place there, for the countless lessons, for all the work laughs and drama, for all the kind words at my farewell, for the send-off, for all the love since day one and so much more. It has truly been and always will be an honour and a pleasure to have been able to work and be in the lives of such great people.

Wherever I go from here, I will always be in debt to the GG team and I will never forget any of you, the group of people who have given me one of the best work and life experiences I’ve ever had. I miss you all very, very much but I’ll be dropping in sooner than you think so take care until then!

Sincerely,

A Letter Per Person

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Dear Mister “No Bag, Thanks”,

Minster No-Bag.jpg
Image by A Letter Per Person. Image Description: A grey silhouette of a man wearing a bucket hat hugging colourful silhouettes of his groceries.

Dear Mister “No Bag, Thanks”,

I noticed the many, many scares on your arms immediately. It was the first thing I noticed: one, because I don’t really look up to make eye contact with customers like I should be so I was already looking down at your shopping items, and two, I’ve seen scars like that multiple times before on multiple people.

I’m so sorry I didn’t say anything to you then. I couldn’t pull my gaze from your arms fast enough and I think you noticed me looking but please don’t think I was judging you. I wasn’t. I was just in shock. Even though I’ve had some training in this area, even though I’ve helped some of my best friends go through depression, I was caught completely off guard.

I so desperately wanted to tell you that you could reach out to me if you ever wanted. I wanted to tell you that I work there at least 5 days a week and if I’m not out front, I’m in the back. I wanted to tell you my name in case you didn’t see my name badge. But I couldn’t because I had never offered support like that to a stranger in person before. I had done it through phone calls and online conversations working at a helpline but never in person. I was so ashamed of my lack of strength, when you were showing yours.

I thought about you for days after that encounter. I hoped you would come back to the store so I knew you were okay. I feared I would never see you again and thought of the worst possible reasons as to why that would be. I felt guilt for not reaching out. I felt weak despite having all the experience and training to be the strong pillar of support. I felt like I failed another human being.

But you came back! I can’t tell you how happy I was. I specifically made a point to make eye contact so if you were creeped out I don’t blame you. I was so happy you were alive, that you were here in front of me! And this time I was able to tell you to “Take care” and “Have a nice day!” I know that those words may seem empty to you, words that may seem like I throw around to every customer as part of my service. Maybe the latter phrase, sure, but I still meant it. And I definitely have never said “Take care” to any other customer before and since. I really, really meant it. I really want you to take care of yourself.

Then I saw you a couple more times and each time I was so relieved and happy. Sometimes you’re in your work uniform. Sometimes you talk to my co-worker because you guys are apparently on familiar terms. And always, you’ll say some variant of “No bag, thanks” because you’re parked right across the street and proceed to hug all your items before going about the rest of your day. It makes me so happy to see you just living your life.

I know that there is a slight chance that those scars weren’t self-inflicted. Maybe it was an accident at a job. But I also know that more likely than not, those scars meant you went through a rough time, and that maybe perhaps you still are. Maybe you are over that dark chapter of your life. Maybe some scars were recent. I’ll never know and that’s okay. Regardless of what the situation is, I just want you to know that I care about you. I care about your wellbeing. And I definitely think about you when I haven’t seen you around for a couple of days.

After a few more exchanges since our first, I’ve made it clear I remember you and I know you remember me. But I’m going to try to make more small talk with you and hopefully turn that into conversation. I suck at conversing with strangers but I’m going to try. I just want you to know that if you ever feel shitty, ever feel tired, ever feel like leaving another scar, there is a person at the store you frequent who cares very deeply about you.

And if a stranger can care about you this much from one seemingly mundane interaction, imagine just how much your close friends and family care about you.

Sincerely,

A Letter Per Person