I once had the best job ever. It was quite a while ago, but I still miss it sometimes, and I think about it especially at certain times of the year - Halloween, Christmas Party Time, April Fool's Day and the first day of each new school year. Those of you who worked there with me know those were the best days of that best-of-jobs.
While having a job you truly love is really a wonderful thing, if, for some reason, you don't have that job any longer you will spend the rest of your working life looking for a job to match it. Sometimes I wonder why I never found a job like that again, and I suspect that more than a little of the reason is that I was young, and I didn't really have any other focuses in my life. Even so, there were lots of other people there at the time who did have other important things going on in their lives, and they agree that it was a pretty great place to work. I've spent lots of time in the years since then wondering and analyzing what exactly made it so great, and here's what I've come up with:
1. We were a community. We cared about each other. We did things together. We played softball, and had parties, dressed up for holidays, and made each other laugh. We were each others' counselors. We were there for many of each others' big life events, and were the support system we sometimes took for granted.
2. We were important an valued as employees and as coworkers. The tone of a place comes from the top, and the top appreciated us! We mattered. We were asked, "How is it going in your room? How was your weekend? You got a new haircut - it's nice!" but it wasn't bullshit - the person asking really cared. We were asked for things kindly, thanked personally and told on a regular basis that we did a great job. Our individual contributions were noticed and appreciated.
3. We were given challenging work by people who believed in us. As a result, we believed even more in ourselves. I can't say enough how much this meant to me in particular. I - cannot - say - it - enough.
4. We were treated as human beings with full lives. If someone had something going on in his or her life, accommodations were made. There was flexibility, consideration, understanding. As a result, you felt as if you would put on your armor and fight for that place.
5. Our creative contributions were used and appreciated. Thought of a new way of doing something? Let's hear it! If you had a real concern about something and things couldn't change, an explanation was given. We felt like our input mattered.
I miss you, friends and coworkers! At the start of another school year, I'll be thinking of all of you!