Emily This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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My first day of work at the handmade jewelry store was a blur. I never received any orientation; no one explained how to use the credit card machine or the location of the trash bags. However, my new boss, Emily (who is maybe five feet tall, including the tuft of blond bangs pinned on top of her head) expected me to already know these details.

I felt lost. The other girls were nice and helpful, always offering advice and encouragement, but not Emily. Her big brown doe eyes and tiny ponytail screamed innocent little girl, but her quiet, often curt nature revealed her true self. I have never met anyone who displayed authority so well without saying a word. She wouldn’t even make eye contact as she fed me orders.

“Here are some headbands – put them out … Is that bracelet on its shelf or did we sell it? … Go to UPS and get me $5 worth of copies of this.” I was embarrassed that I had to ask someone what she meant every time she gave me a task, but how was I supposed to know? Emily seemed friendly to everyone else, so I assumed she was testing me because I was new. I told myself not to let her get to me.

As the weeks passed, and I became more accustomed to the store’s environment, Emily bothered me less and less, probably because I didn’t start until school ended, and she left by 3:30. I wondered why the store manager would leave two hours before closing every day, so I courageously asked my co-worker, Jill. She shot me a shocked expression followed with, “You don’t know? She has to pick up Tyler.” I felt my face boil red; I hate not knowing something I am clearly expected to, so I played it cool and said, “Oh, right.” The next day, Emily mumbled that she was late for Tyler’s something-or-other. I nonchalantly asked Emily who he was, but Jill overheard and blurted, “Burkley, that’s her son!”

“It’s his eighth birthday,” Emily added. I was shocked because I had no idea how old she was, but would have guessed about 22. I think she read my astonishment and said, “I’m 28, you know.”

I most certainly did not know, and I didn’t know how to digest this new information, either. I knew she wasn’t married, nor had she ever been. Suddenly, I saw Emily in a whole new light.

My new perspective led me to think more before I assume. Emily’s attitude toward me was never based on malice; she just had a hard time letting new people in. The assumptions I made my first day at work were far from true, and I wish that I hadn’t attempted to read her personality before I knew more about her.

After this experience, I’ve tried not to judge people as quickly, and I give them the benefit of the doubt rather than a label. Emily – who is always honest about everything, even if you don’t want her to be – possesses the perfect dash of sass and unique personality to make her interesting. She is caring and helpful in her own quiet way because she is passionate about her job, not just managing the store, but also creating the jewelry we sell. Her scrappy charisma combined with her motherly attitude makes her one of my favorite people and someone I respect.

To some, Emily could come off as fake, but whenever I see her little smirk-smile or hear her overbearing roar of a laugh booming from her tiny frame, I can’t help but giggle and think how wrong I was that first day of work.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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