I am working as a brand ambassador/event specialist for Advantage Solutions*, which is a national marketing company that partners with Walmart stores to promote certain products in their stores. My job is to go into Walmart stores in the area and set up tasting events. So far I have served up samples of all sorts of things (i.e. yogurt, crackers, ice cream, pasta salad, fruit, sausage, cheese, wine, beer, etc.) It has been immensely enlightening, and I have just been itching to share ;)
When I first applied for the job a few months ago, the job description wasn’t very clear. After I was given the job, I realized I would be giving out samples in Walmart stores. It didn’t sound very appealing at that point, but we needed the money and it was a sure thing. Getting a “real job” opened up some underlying feelings of insecurity. I have been my own boss for most of my adult life and haven’t had to punch a clock since I was in college. It was very exciting!
The job also brought up all of those negative judgments I have had toward Walmart for ages. I never really shop there. In fact, I spent more time in Walmart on my first day of the job than in my whole life. There I was, working as an apparent employee of Walmart. At first I became aware of feelings of failure governed by a mental story and fear of judgment. What would “they” think of me? “Successful Small Business Owner Resorts to Working at Walmart,” would be the ego’s headline :)
Fortunately, I was aware of these stories playing out and could watch them without buying into them. I was able to welcome those negative judgments head on. I became open to the situation, viewing it without a negative overlay. Without some level of awareness, I can see how that story could easily spin someone into a state of depression. But the more I accepted my moment to moment situation, the more at ease I felt. Therein lies liberation -- Accepting without judgments.
It helps a great deal that I have a half hour drive to work. Driving is something that allows me to become more fully present. I also get to listen to Eckhart Tolle audio, which never gets old. In fact, they just get newer. I’m listening to the same audiobooks over and over again (Stillness Speaks and Practicing the Power of Now) and I just get clearer and clearer. His words have been instrumental in helping me adjust to this new life situation.
Basically, this job took me way out of my comfort zone. I’ve been an introvert since I was a kid. I don’t consider myself shy, as such, but I have never been very outgoing. This job requires me to be outgoing, which has been wonderful in so many ways. First, I learned that stepping out of my comfort zone, actually gives my feet a work out. I haven’t really needed to be on my feet for 6 hours a day before, so my feet hurt quite a bit when I first started the job. However, I noticed something interesting once I started paying conscious attention to my feet. When I engaged with people, such asking them if they would like a sample, the muscles in different parts of my feet got tight. I don’t know much about it, but I know reflexology works with different parts of the foot that connect with other bodily symptoms. What I determined was that the flight or flight instinct, typically brought about by fearful situations, was triggered on a subtle level when I struck up conversation with other people. To me this was a clear example of how the residue of fear was manifesting in a physical way so that it could be recognized and released. Had it not been for foot pain, I may not have recognized that fear was there, running silently in the background. (I did get some padded insoles, by the way, which helped quite a bit).
One of the other great things about my job is that I get to people watch all day. Walmart is such a melting pot of people. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, nationalities and personalities. I have seen a number of people with various forms of mental and physical disabilities, which I don’t normally see in my daily life (I lead a sheltered life). There seems to be so much acceptance of people, especially from some of the Walmart greeters. The Walmart greeter at one store seems to know most of the customers. She hugs most of the people with disabilities that come through the door, and likes to kiss every baby on the head (not sure how some of the Moms feel about it though).
It’s been a real eye opener to watch people like this, but it’s been more eye opening to watch myself. I get to notice my own judgments about others as they surface. Notice, accept and release seems to be the practice, and it has become second nature. It’s easy for the mind to spin stories about people based on how they look, what they buy and how they act, but it’s easier (and better) not to. When we stop looking at others judgmentally, they automatically become better people because we are the ones who made them look less than perfect in the first place.
As life continues to give me the experiences I need to wake up to what’s true vs. what’s just a story built on judgments, I am able to relax more. Now I am actually enjoying reaching out to people and greeting them. I’m inviting them with a smile to sample whatever I have in front of me. The ones who aren’t interested almost always smile and say, “No thank you.” It’s amazing! Regardless of who it is (punks, thugs, hippies, yuppies, rastas, rednecks, old folks, kids, even New Yorkers), they all have such good manners. (BTW those terms are not meant to be derogatory in any way. They are terms those people would probably ascribe themselves.) The interesting thing is, 99% of them smile when they say no. It’s like we were all raised with such good manners that it’s an automatic response. I see parents passing on good manners to their children after they have a sample, encouraging them to say thank you. Even people who are very serious looking, with a scowl on their face, pause long enough to say, “No thank you.” It’s like I can get a smile out of almost everybody by a simple gesture :)
So now, I realize that my new job is to make people smile. Now I’m not shy about asking anyone to try a sample because it’s fun to make people smile, and I’m getting paid to do it. Smile and the whole world smiles with you :)
If you’re interested, the company I’m working for is hiring. Email me if you want to learn more - firstname.lastname@example.org