Assertiveness Before Dawn, Er, Well Almost…

The Frenzied Twilight by Nick Kendrick..

Right after 9/11, I joined the Park Slope Food Co-op because I wanted to be part of a collaborative effort, something bigger than myself. In the more than 15 years of membership I’ve had a number of responsibilities, as each member works 2 ¾ hours every 4 weeks. The duration of my 5:45 to 8:15 a.m. shift is only 2 ½ hours because it starts so early.

Recently I reported for a new work slot at the entrance desk. The task is to have members (Our membership, which is United Nations-like in diversity, is over 17,000.) scan their card or give me their ID number, which I punch in to the computer. Everyone who is willing to work and pay a small investment fee can become a member, yet only members can shop, hence the need for my “job.”

Entering members report for their 6:00, 7:00 and 8:00 a. m. shifts. And, a greater number of people enter at 8:00 a.m. as the Co-op opens for shopping. At 7:50 a.m. Van (not his real name) came in for his 8:00 o’clock shift. There is a deliberate 15-minute overlap where there are two shift workers at two separate work stations to handle the longer lines due to the store opening: there are two of us from 8:00 to 8:15 to deal with the rush.

As soon as he came in, Van asked to put his backpack in my cubicle at my feet. I acquiesced thinking he wanted to walk around the Co-op while keeping his “stuff” safe. What I soon learned was this was the first of 3 prompts to get me to leave early. Each time he suggested I leave, I’d respond with something like: “It’s okay, I’ll leave at 8:15. I didn’t feel much tension; it was fairly easy going on my side. I’m not sure about Van…

From time to time – and these are rare – the staff member in charge (We have less than 50 staff.) will suggest I leave early because the work has been completed. As I mentioned, I joined the Co-op to be part of collaboration, and I take my roles seriously. I love our diversity and what we accomplish: bringing organic and sustainable food to our tables at reasonable prices.

I also want to say if I had an appointment to keep after my shift, I’d be tempted to leave a bit early – taking Van’s offer to cover for me. Yet, I would want to check in with either the squad leader or staff. Why? Because I value and respect our collaborative structure, and I feel like we are family…

What I’d like to highlight today is my assertiveness in saying “No” to Van. From his perspective, I was clearly in his way, blocking the way he usually does things. I was the new gal on the block. For me personally I usually feel uncomfortable when someone clearly doesn’t want me around. In a social situation, I would likely make plans to leave… So, I feel pleased to have made the emotional progress to remain ‘in Van’s way.’

I must say I’m glad to have gotten through my first day on this new shift. It’s likely that I’ll see Van next time and I’m not sure how this will go…

What an adventure life is, even before dawn, er, well almost!

Speak to you on August 21st.

Peace and Light!


#assertion #ParkSlopecoop #911 #collaborationinnature #lifeasanadventure

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Linda Marsanico

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