The Women Who Shaped Me

McDonald’s 2001

I am a very good worker. Any company would be extremely lucky–in my absolutely not humble opinion–to have me work for them. I work hard and constantly from clock-in to clock-out. I think about my job when I’m at home, problem solving and planning.

I don’t even steal!

Maybe some of that is naturally in my can’t-sit-still, have-to-be-productive personality but I attribute a lot of it to three amazing women who shaped me into the responsible non-slacker I am today.

This post is for Cheryl, Cheryl, and Corrie.

McDonalds, shockingly, was a great place to work and Cheryl was a terrific boss to learn from. She caught me young and taught me the value of hustling and using downtime productively.

One time I was wayyyyyyy back in the back drive-thu taking orders and money and I asked Cheryl if someone could take the headset for me so that I could go to the bathroom. She held up a small cup and a super-sized cup and asked which one I needed. I said a medium. She said, “Ask me again when this is a Super-Sized situation.”

She was joking, and she did relieve me, but that moment has always stuck with me. Is this a super-sized situation? Can I power through for a little longer? Do I really need a break right now or am I just finding an excuse?

*On a side note about going through the drive through… You would be surprised how many times the person taking your order is actually IN the bathroom trying to make a quick pee because there is no one to relieve them. Working in fast food is a rare gem of a job*

I worked at McDonald’s for three very formative years in high school and college where I was learning what kind of person I was going to be. Cheryl sent me to McDonald’s Customer Hospitality Ambassador training… That’s what we were supposed to be in the industry, Hospitality Ambassadors. But I have to tell you that training was fucking GOLD. I truly learned something valuable about treating customers–which later turned into patrons or clients–in a quality manner that has forever changed my outlook on serving my community.

My Second Cheryl came directly after the first. This time at Wells Fargo. She was a tiny, quiet, powerful, and smart woman who ran a tight ship.

We were not allowed to have chairs behind the counter because it cut down on productivity. For 8 hours a day we were standing behind the counter banking our asses off. It became a point of pride for us and seemed to bond us together in our work ethic.

Two of the women I worked with were pregnant at different points in my two years there and being pregnant grants you a chair. But it was some sort of cranky pregnant challenge to resist “taking the chair” before it was absolutely necessary. I remember overhearing the two of them talking about another pregnant woman at another branch and how she “took the chair” already at 3 months pregnant. I mean, how weak is that.

Cheryl was compassionate when she needed to be, firm when you deserved it, and always tidy and rule-following. Truly a model of what I wanted to be as a leader.

Savannah, this sounds so normal what is this post even about?!

Wells Fargo is where I realized how important a great manager/boss/leader really is because I worked at two of them. I moved to go to the University of Utah and so I transferred branches. I remember I cried after my transfer interview and said, “I have to leave Cheryl to go work for BOB!”

Sloppy, dirty, probably should have reported for sexual harassment, Bob.

His branch was a mess. It was dirty. The employees were lazy and fought. With each other and I mean, FOUGHT. I would go home crying on MANY occasions. We were not a team united. I had up to this point in my working career never called in sick. My very first time was working at this Wells Fargo for Bob… Because I didn’t really care about my work ethic.

Every teller had a chair to sit on, and sit they DID! I resisted my chair for so long. I just stood next to it all day. When you’re in a chair that means you have to get off the chair every time you need to do something. If you know you have to get on and off a chair to do something… you do less things. Downtime wasn’t filled with cleaning, organizing, preparing for rushes, and doing extra projects. Downtime was filled with sitting. Sitting and trying to get the office computers to play games. They didn’t. But sometimes we could get them to.

But you can’t fight that kind of lack of morale for very long and eventually I was sitting on that chair with everyone else. And gone was my work ethic. I never went the extra mile working for Bob. I never even went an extra step!

Maybe this isn’t a tribute to Cheryl as much as it is to my philosophy about chairs… but no. No, Cheryl is the one that made us a team. She made us productive and want to take pride in our work. Bob basically just sexually harassed everyone all day.

I know this is getting long but stick with me because I saved the best for last.

After I knew what I wanted to do with my life I found an amazing job working with trouble youth. My dream. And I worked for the most extraordinary woman I know.

Corrie was–and probably still is–the most influential woman in my life. 

Talk about tight ships. Corrie ran the tightest. The home she ran was the cleanest, the girls behaved the best, the chores were the most organized, the food was the healthiest, and she would throw down with administration if she had to because you have to stand up for yourself.

She is a goddess.

I remember watching her sit on a chair in the living room with the worst cold I’ve ever seen anyone have and still teaching teenagers how to do life. Every girl who ever lived with her still, as adults, loves her as if she were their own mother. Because she loved them like her children and they felt it.

When I moved up and ran a home of my own I emulated Corrie’s home to a T. I didn’t care that the home already had systems in place. They would always be substandard to Corrie’s systems. I changed everything and the girls in that home flourished because of that influence.

Along with my promotion, Corrie was also promoted, so that she continued to be my boss and example. This trend continued during my almost 5 years at Alpine Academy so I benefitted from her leadership the entire time I was there. I couldn’t even think of an Alpine without Corrie.

I imagine it’s rubbish.

I dream that one day I will get to work for Corrie again in any capacity and I honestly think everyone would benefit from her mentorship. I started working for her when I was still a baby at 23, now at grown-ass 35 I STILL call and text her for advice. She doesn’t even get paid to deal with my shit anymore but she just gives the best advice, who else am I possibly going to call?

I kid you not, when I am dealing with a difficult kid, family problem, world issue, I think, What Would Corrie Do? Kick ass, that’s what she’d do. She’d kick some ass.

I have seen–and had–terrible employees over the course of my career and life and I cannot credit enough the value of have a great example and teacher. We all have to learn to be good employees and I only hope my children will find their first jobs in the right places so that they too can learn to be hard, diligent, independent workers.

I want them to be Cheryls and Corries…not Bobs. 


7 thoughts on “The Women Who Shaped Me

  1. This was great! I have been struggling with a lot of different things at my new library, and the biggest one is not having my supervisor from Morristown soothe me and help me brainstorm new solutions. I finally broke down and went to the Morristown Library crying a few weeks ago and ended up calling Arlene and talked for an hour and a half about my new library and how to attack it. Now I have my head screwed on straight and I’m devising strategies to be my best Arlene self. Which is me, but if I did what I felt Arlene would tell me to do. I’ve been sending her emails and she’s responded with great support even though I left her. Great bosses are the best.

    And not that she’s reading this or anything, but I always feel guilty reaching out to Arlene because my current supervisor Angela has been fighting for me all summer and has been great. Great women helping other great women be their best selves is my absolute favorite!!!! ❤

    P.s. You make me better and you're one of the top people I think of if I'm struggling. So thank you for everything! ❤


  2. You’re so me. I wish my boss knew how lucky he is to have me work for him. I feel like every employer would be glad to have me work for them.
    I work irrespective of the time or where I am and i deliver A+ performance. Only difference is, i have no Corrie I am my own Corrie.


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