Around 1957 when I was fifteen or sixteen years old, I worked part time at our local dime store behind the lunch counter. I started out in the kitchen peeling potatoes. French fries were a big seller so I peeled lots and lots of potatoes. It was an after school job and all day on Saturday. One day a waitress quit and I thought about applying for the job but that meant I’d have to drop out of school and get permission from my parents. Well, it took some major convincing, but as a family we could use the extra money so I got the go ahead to quit high school and started my full-time job as a waitress. Each waitress waited on customers in her section of five stools along the counter so I was given my own section that I took care of each day. People from shops along the business area frequently had lunch at the counter and we had what we called our regular customers. One such customer was a gentleman that owned a family shoe store and he choose the section I worked in to have his lunch each day. We’d chat a little about this and that and if it was a bit slow we’d carry on longer conversations. I would ask questions about how the shoe store business ran and took an interest in all the details he would share with me. One day as we talked he said he liked how I took care of my customers and wondered if I might consider working full time as a sales person at his store. I was thinking it would be a step up but I would need permission from my parents again. My mother, bless her heart, agreed so off I went into the unknown realm of a shoe sales clerk. The owner of the store trained me to not only sell shoes but he did all his own accounting and taught me how to do that also. I remember he took a great deal of his time to show me the ins and outs of the accounting business.

Little did I know that opportunity would lead me into pursuing more education and eventually into full-time accounting positions. I’m forever grateful.

The moral of this story is never take a mediocre job for granted. It can and may launch you into bigger and better opportunities.

—Helen Valcaniant,
Imlay City