There was a mixture of us in those years. Some were in high school and others in college. It was the best kind of place for a first job. We were learning about retail life. It is most likely where the expression, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” originated from, but those are stories for another day.
Our manager was truly one of a kind. He took a chance on all of us from the date of hire. We had little to no experience but one thing was for sure…we worked hard. Some of our customers were regulars. They were people who had copies to make each Saturday or they needed office supplies for their jobs. Our store at times became a place like Cheers where everyone knew your name. There were many regulars who I think about to this day so many years later but there is one that I like to remember especially on Christmas Eve.
Emil was tall so you couldn’t miss his entrance and was always giving off happy vibes. He usually had a smile on his face. Many times, he was carrying sodas or different foods he would leave for the employees since we “worked so hard” and he wanted to do something nice for us. Walking around as he shopped or waited on copies, he would ask many of us how we were doing and seemed genuinely interested in our answers. To all of the girls, he referred to us by name with the word, “beautiful” in front of it. Before your red flag goes up, trust me when I say he had a heart of gold and wasn’t trying to pull any moves on us. Emil was caring and his personality was full of enthusiasm. When he did greet any of us, his voice carried over aisles and customers. He always had kind words to say. Many times when he would talk to us, he would help with whatever task was going on. I remember standing on a ladder and him passing different boxes up to me because he didn’t want me to fall.
The manager I previously mentioned kept us all focused on customer service and holding each other accountable to that. He would joke and laugh but business was his clear focus. It came as quite the surprise that he was the one who agreed to what would become the best thing in our store that holiday season.
Emil had been telling us for a year he could play the accordion. In fact he wanted to play for all of us. I am sure if you had watched all of our reactions when he finally did show up playing that thing, it would be full of surprise and the, “I can’t believe this is happening” expressions. Our manager told him that he could come and play on Christmas Eve for all of us and that he did.
In a Santa hat, and the smile we all came to know him for, Emil walked in with his accordion on probably the loudest level it could be on. He paraded around the front of the store playing the holiday classics and getting us to sing along.
And of course we did even if we couldn’t believe we were doing it. At times, it was hard to even keep a straight face. You could tell how much he enjoyed it!
It became a tradition that we all looked forward to and would talk about for weeks. Isn’t it amazing when you look back at certain memories and realize you had no idea the impact it would have in years to come?
I don’t know when our store tradition stopped. Enough years go by and what seems like all of a sudden really isn’t. Change happens little by little when we are not paying attention. Sadly, Emil is no longer with us but it is this time of year where a tune plays in my head with an accordion sound and it makes me smile. I think about beautiful Emil and the joy he brought to our world on those Christmas Eve nights.
Thank you for reading about this very special memory.
I have appreciated all of your support as you have followed me along with my stories at 40 Wishes and Counting.
Wishing all of you a very happy holiday season!