Blockbuster

The first job I got after I graduated college was as a clerk at Blockbuster. This was a taste of the kind of glamorous opportunities an art school degree would afford me. The fact that Blockbuster was even still in business dates this story- it was 2004 and I was 22. The first week of employment was set aside for training. I would shadow a worker who knew the different aspects of the job and try my best to keep up. Most of the jobs were not difficult. Stocking, cleaning, taking trash out, etc. There was one task I had trouble with… the actual renting of the movies. So pretty much the only job that actually mattered. The problem was the computer. The systems were these old DOS style antiques. Every task required a series of numbers and key codes that was in no way self explanatory. I did okay if someone was standing next to me, guiding me through it- or if I could take 10 minutes and use the note pad where I had written down the series of inputs I would need to access someone's account. Unfortunately, this was back in the day when Blockbuster had lots of customers- many of whom would become angry if they had to wait on the slowed pace of a new hire. They would complain if I took too long or had to start over when I became confused trying to rush through the transaction. Looking back now it seems silly but at the time it was pretty stressful for me. I began to psyche myself out. "I'm never going to get this." I thought. "I will NEVER figure out this computer system and I'm gonna get fired when the manager finds out." It wasn't difficult for me to picture someone angrily chewing me out for delaying them from heading home to watch "Big Mamma's House 2" or the "Rollerball" remake with Chris Klein and demanding that the manager give them a free rental for their inconvenience- perhaps "First Daughter" starring Katie Holmes or "Chasing Liberty" (the OTHER President's Daughter movie starring Mandy Moore). Then the manager would take me aside and tell me that it just wasn't working out. 

But here's the thing. Eventually I did figure it out and a month later it was me training some new guy how to use the computer. This is obviously a very common occurrence. You think you can't do something and eventually you figure it out. But because the time between worrying about it and figuring it out was so compressed, it gave me the proper perspective to see it more clearly. I could access the anxiety in my memory quite easily and the worry I felt was still vivid. Being able to tell myself "See? You figured out the system and it didn't even take that long!" wasn't something I could easily dismiss like the vague platitude of "It will all work out!" I could look back a few weeks prior and see how much unneeded stress I had put myself under. "Did I really think I would NEVER figure out how to use the computer at Blockbuster video? Really?" I wished I could have built a time machine and gone back to say "Hey- this is you from three weeks from now. Just chill, you figure it all out". 

The revelation wasn't so much that I had to dig deep within myself and discover that if I could concur the Blockbuster computer system, I could do ANYTHING- as much as it was realizing that awkward seasons pass. You get through them- even though you tell yourself "it will be like this forever!" you will eventually discover enough confidence to relax. So I tell myself when I find myself in new and uncomfortable environments- "It's just the computer at Blockbuster- it's just the computer at Blockbuster." This works for me beyond when I'm feeling unqualified for a job- I use it whenever I'm uneasy or unsure about a new environment. Give yourself that emotional time machine and transport your mental state from after things make sense back to the present.

The trick is to know that there is a conclusion to every problem. The moment you get passed it, the place you are when find you've emerged on the other side of it. The conflict is solved, the awkwardness has passed or the stress has subsided. For me, this poster is about reminding yourself the old adage of "this too shall pass" and that on the other side of it- will be the people who stood with you. The people who walked through the tough seasons along side you. The friends or family that talked you down and reassured you. You will be that for someone else at some point. And when you are, just remind them that "it's just the computer at Blockbuster. It's just the computer at Blockbuster." 

Though now I'm sure most people will respond with "what's a Blockbuster?"