There are several people in my life besides my parents who have made a tremendous impact on who I am and who I have become. One of those people is Dolly, who you see pictured with me at my college graduation party.
I first met Dolly my freshman year of college. I needed a job for some spending money, and I started my search at the Student Union Building on-campus. I remembered seeing several of the food court restaurants there advertising for jobs. I asked one of the cashiers how to apply, and she asked me which restaurant I would be interested in working for. I looked around and saw Chick-fil-A. Hey, I like Chick-fil-A, why not?
I told her my choice, and then she went to get me an application. I thought. Instead, the cashier brought out Dolly, the manager of Chick-fil-A! I was stunned. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, I was NOT dressed for an interview! Dolly asked me a few questions and then hired me on the spot.
For the next four years, I worked at Chick-fil-A first as a regular employee and then as the evening shift manager. It was the best job because Dolly worked around my school hours. But the greatest benefit I received from my college job is what Dolly taught me.
First of all, Dolly commanded respect in the entire food court area. Everyone loved Dolly because she loved everyone. She treated her employees equally. She never asked us to do something she would not do. Dolly was just as likely to interact with customers as she was to take out the trash. While several of the other food court managers hid in the back office during rushes, Dolly fought in the trenches with her employees. She always answered your questions even if you had to ask it a million times.
Dolly also made sure I learned all aspects of running the store. I managed employees, took some inventory, learned how to make our products and ran the store. Dolly trusted me, a lowly college student, and I made sure I did not let her down....
...except for one evening...
The greatest lesson Dolly taught me occurred in my greatest failure as a manager. Normally, the daytime shift prepared all the chicken we would need for the dinner rush. For some reason that evening, they didn't prepare any chicken, which meant we quickly ran out of product. The chicken comes in frozen, so I had no back-up chicken to serve my customers. I tried defrosting some chicken, but it wasn't thawing fast enough. I tried running warm water over it in one of our industrial sinks, which turned out to be a mistake.
Turns out, our dish washing soap was connected to the sink's faucet, so as the warm water poured out, so did dish washing soap...all over my chicken...I panicked. The chicken was ruined! I threw it away and called Dolly. I had no choice.
Dolly came to my rescue and helped get everything on-track. I thought for sure she would fire me, but once the customers were served, she took me aside and explained what to do if this situation ever happened again. She didn't even yell. I was blown away by her grace towards me. I really messed up her store!
I no longer work at Chick-fil-A, but I apply leadership qualities and grace Dolly taught me daily. She changed my life.