98: Pickles

98: Pickles

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life


You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

~Gautama Buddha

I work in a pickle shop. Okay, we sell things other than pickles — sauces, salsas, and marinades — all packaged in large glass mason jars with matching shiny gold lids. But pickles are what we are known for. When you envision an old-fashioned pickle shop, the stereotypical ideas you might have — food sold in barrels, employees wearing button-downs and jeans and dirty aprons, and a plethora of America-the-great themed décor — are all true. So I just say I work in a pickle shop.

When I was hired, I was told that part of my job was to keep the conversation going with customers. This made me nervous. I had never been a very talkative person. But I fudged the truth on my application, and said that I was totally comfortable with talking with strangers.

Fake it till you make it. That’s what I did. I sucked it up, put on my button-down, my jeans, my dirty apron, and I entered that pickle shop with a smile on my face. And I decided to just let my real self shine through.

A year and a half later, I am the most tenured employee and have no problem easing into conversations with new customers. I smile, ask them about their day, comment on the great sale. Then I convince them to buy three jars of our pickled garlic.

It is in this pickle store that I learned what self-esteem truly was. Previously, I had always pictured it to be a quality solely possessed by the skinny blond cheerleaders in high school. I am neither skinny, nor blond, and I’m certainly not a cheerleader. While working my way up the ladder at the pickle shop, I worked my way to a broader definition of self-esteem as well.

Self-esteem is knowing who you are and not being afraid to let it shine. My big smile and loud laugh, once a source of embarrassment, has become a sort of trademark for me. It helps me with my sales because customers feel like I am a real person, not just a robotic saleswoman.

Self-esteem is not being completely shut down by a mistake. I once had a customer tell me I was annoying. Pre-pickle shop, I might have crumbled and refused to talk to another customer. Instead, with my new self-confidence, I smiled, apologized, and moved on to the next person, knowing that this woman was the exception, not the rule.

Because of my pickle-shop self-esteem, I applied myself at college. Freshman year I was elected to the boards of two large clubs while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

It took eighteen years and a store full of pickles to teach me to be happy with myself.

~Fallon Kane

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