TALES FROM HUMBER: Memories of work before the COVID-19 pandemic

by | Dec 11, 2020 | Tales From Humber

As I recently clocked myself in on a computer at my workplace as a Rogers sales associate, I find myself excited to be back at work.

Any other year that might be an odd thing for a 19-year-old to say, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot about life, the way we live it, and what we value.

I was hired at Rogers before the pandemic started and when it did I was sidelined, like so many other people, by the lockdown.

I had worked hard to get that position, and found out looking for work is a job in and of itself.

I had my godfather Johnny Andrade to thank for the fact I got this one.

I was heading out to a job fair. I was wearing a black golf shirt, light grey dress pants, a black belt. But there was one problem — my shoes were too tight.

The job fair was in downtown Toronto and by the time realized my mistake, it was far too late to turn back around to change into another pair.

As I headed for the bus stop, I had to walk on my tiptoes because of the pain. The shoes began cutting into the back of feet. By the time I got downtown, my white Nike socks had blood on them.

The pain was excruciating, and I almost turned around and went back home. But I called my godfather. And he gave me the motivation to stay downtown, to grit it out, and to go home after the fair.

I knew I couldn’t let him down. I had to stay and at least try to get in. After all, he did fix up my resume for me. His words restored my determination, motivating me to fight through the pain.

When I arrived, I saw that there were more than 300 people at the job fair. I knew finding work would be a longshot.

There were two interviews, a group interview, and if you made a good impression at that, a one-on-one interview with a store manager. I didn’t even tell anybody about my shoe situation at the interview because I wanted to stay focused.

I guess I did pretty well, bloody sock and all. I did the first interview. I moved on to meet the store manager. And he hired me a couple of days later.

It was the best feeling in the world, especially because of what I had to go through that day.

I had no experience in the field whatsoever. I didn’t know how to be a salesman or how to be Rogers’ employee. But I guess that manager saw something in me because only about a dozen people were hired from the hundreds there that day.

There was a lot to learn. I needed to learn the systems, how to deal with customers, and to polish my communications skills. I had to know how to perform hardware upgrades and master price plans. I had to stay on top of promos that were changing day by day, week by week.

It’s easy to mess up things up. Then you have an angry customer on your hands.

The training comes in both formal sessions and hands-on encounters with customers, and every time I stepped into work I was improving.

A co-worker told me it’s a sink-or-swim kind of job.

So I made up my mind. I will not sink.

All we can hope is once we move past this pandemic, and now a second lockdown, the chance to keep improving makes itself available again.