Diamond in the Rough by gogapk


education college , college education ,

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									Diamond in the Rough:

Do you know a place where you can find history, thread, embroidery floss,
school supplies, lampshades, Tupperware or any other random knick-knack?
I do. It's a place unlike any other, or it used to be. Buckingham Variety
store, more commonly known as Buckingham's, was such a place. Yet this
story begins at another store where I first encountered the woman who
would help shape who I am today.

I have lived in the hamlet of Oyster Bay my entire life; everything was
familiar and nothing was special. The town held little excitement until a
unique store came out of nowhere, a sparkling gem, alien to a town that
never changes. The gleam from the gem was not the light dancing upon its
precious contents of amber and crystal, but from its owner, Claire. Her
curly black hair artfully intertwined with slim streaks of grey tumbled
softly down her shoulders, and her deep brown eyes shone with the
reflection of her wares, and all of her features were balanced perfectly
against her dark olive skin. The extravagant jewelry she sold and her
striking Greek beauty were the sparkling lure which enticed me through
the door, but her bright smile was the catalyst for the most meaningful
friendship of my life.

Unfortunately Claire's generosity, discounts, and lack of customers
caused the closure of her store. I was heartbroken at the thought of how
little I would see Claire. Thankfully, Claire did not delay in moving on.

Buckingham's, one of the town's relic stores, became Claire's new home,
and I wanted to move in too. I applied to work there the summer after
eight grade, and it became my first real job. At this point in my life,
responsibility meant cleaning my room and doing homework; was I ready to
take on more? My mind raced and my hands shook, but the prospect of
working with Claire and earning money for myself left no room for doubt
in my mind. I was ecstatic I had found a job, and I knew for sure I was
going to have fun.

There are too many experiences to list that occurred in that one little
store, from interesting customers to Claire's little boy and girl who
lived beneath the forest of merchandise. Her children were viewed as
destructive by most, but I discovered the fault in that assumption. They
were the most creative and passionate children I had ever encountered,
and they made everything come alive (though they did occasionally break
things in their imaginative rampage). Each memory from that store holds
significant value to me.

Yes, I learned how to deal with money, run a cash register, do inventory,
and so on, but that was cake compared to dealing with people. I always
tried to keep a smile on my face and a gentle tone in my voice, no matter
how rude the customer. I had never known the ugliness that the world
could throw at me, whether it be a wandering drunk, a flip-flop obsessed
man, or a woman with a tongue of ice. Claire helped me learn how to
manage all of these different characters, as well as help them. A
friendly hello or acknowledgement of remembrance was priceless for some
of the customers, and just knowing I had made their day a little
brighter, mine was too.

People skills can only be gained through experience, and Claire gave me
that chance, so it was only fair that she should get a chance at a better
life as well. I knew that she was overqualified for the position of a
store manager, so when a new opportunity opened up for her, I had to
watch her go. When I was alone, tears streamed down my face. I was
selfish; I didn't want her to leave. Buckingham's wouldn't, no couldn't,
be the same without her. Inner turmoil boiled inside me. I wanted her to
stay, but I knew that she deserved more.

I was happy for her; she had found a job that she wanted, one where she
could make a difference. Both the emotions of joy and sadness that
overcame me were the result of her effect on my life. I am who I am
because of her. She was the reason I took a chance that I would have
never taken if she had not existed. Inside those walls is where I grew. I
got a second family, my heart was broken by my first real crush, I saved
up to buy my very own electric Parker guitar, my imagination was
expanded, I learned trust and respect, my confidence blossomed, and I was
no longer invisible.

The spark Claire had created left with her. Buckingham's is still there,
but its life is hanging by a thread. Yet Claire's influence on my life is
something no one can take from me. Those memories are my precious gems,
more valuable than any diamond or sapphire.

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