This post first ran on September 21, 2010. The story bears repeating. Jane passed away on Saturday, July 6. I’ve lost a great friend and mentor.
If you’ve read the “About” page on this blog…and if you have not, do so…you may have seen the line that says “I got my first job at 14” and “I still stay in touch with my boss”.
There is a reason for that.
She was great!
Now, there were many people in my life who taught me a lot. Folks who shaped me, made me what I am today. I’ll list a few as long as you promise not to take it out on them.
My Parents of course, who were the most influential, my Senior English (we still called it that then) Teacher, Mildred Carson, Mrs. Kindig at the Library in Germantown, and Jane Barnhart.
Jane was only about 17 years older than I. And, when I started working at B and L Jewelers in Germantown, Ohio, she was an adult, so I thought she was old. She wasn’t. She was 31 at the time. As an adult, I listened to her. That’s just the way I was brought UP.
I love to work. Love having a job, and have to be engaged and stay busy. I think I can blame most of that on thank Jane for that.
She taught me so much.
She taught me to do the job I agreed to do for the amount of money I agreed to accept.
To this day, if I hear someone say, “what do they expect, for what they’re paying me?”, I go nuts. Really, people get hurt!
Jane expected me to do what I agreed to do. The first line of the job description was “Do what Jane says.”
You don’t see much of that anymore. And I think it’s because a lot of bosses are just that. Bosses, not mentors.
Jane was a mentor, a teacher, a friend.
She gave me a love for jewelry. I don’t wear it much anymore. Not even a watch. But I can spot a bad diamond at forty yards, and I can smell fake jewelry. She introduced me to cologne.
John, the man who owned the store, was a watch maker and a jeweler. He taught me a lot too. He realized I had a sense of humor and encouraged it. Sometimes it was over my head, sometimes it was a little “blue”, but he was funny, loved a good joke, and was good to anyone Jane loved, because he loved her.
Germantown was a small town, the jewelry store was on Main Street. It was a busy place, and a social gathering place. The Chief of Police would stop by the store for a drink and a chat. Mr. Wool, who ran one of the two factories in town, (he made screen door grilles, I worked there one summer before college…and he only gave me the job because Jane asked him to) came in for a drink and a chat. And there was Mr. MacTavish, or Mac, as every one called him, who came in for a drink and a chat. And there were more.
Meanwhile, Jane was teaching me to work for a living. Which I’ve done all my life. I had a couple of part time jobs in High School. Another of them was with Jane, as well. She was one of the hardest working people I have ever known. As well as working at the store, repairing watches and clocks, she ran a shopper’s guide, called The Booster. She employed probably a hundred kids over the years. Some of my best hours were there. We had fun, but we worked. She taught us how to do both.
She would say “PD, if you find something you really love to do, it won’t be work!”
She was right. I spent 30 years with The Phone Company through its many names and changes. And I learned to love my job. And now I have two jobs I love; the car dealership and this blog, and I’m happy in them! I can thank Jane for that.
She taught me not only to work well, but to work well with others. Be a friend to people you work with, show an interest in them with out being nosy. She was good at that. She passed it on, she paid it forward.
She taught me to love clothes, shop well, look for bargains, gave me a love for glass, to cook a few things, and make a martini!
And she knew how to play as well. She made great food, gave parties at her home for her daughter’s friends, and kept us all under control. We knew not to cross her, we knew she loved us and we knew when we’d pushed the limit. We weren’t afraid of her, she’s less than 5 feet tall, but we respected her.
She was like another parent, checking my grades, behavior, whom I was “running” with, and anyone I dated was under scrutiny.
I think what she might ask today of others is, “Are you teaching, training, mentoring, giving someone else a love for their job? She’d like it if you did.
So thanks, Jane, you did a good job – in everything you did – and with me.
And I miss you already!