If you ask me what my job's like, probably the first thing out of my mouth will be how much I love my coworkers. Because for me, the job is good and I work hard but really, over the last five years, what I've gained the most is a set of best friends and a family.
When I found myself back in Jackson in 2013, working a part-time job I wasn't exactly fond of, my friend Jesse was doing graphics for a screen-printing studio and working Saturday shifts at their retail store because they were short-staffed. I hadn't asked for a new job, nor I was looking for one, but she reached out to me, telling me how great the job at the retail shop and I could be for one another. I was unhappy to be in Jackson and I was unhappy with my lack of a path so I thought it was worth a shot.
A year later, I was still here, much happier and had even become full-time, quitting that other part-time position. I deemed all of this special enough to title it my first "swelloversary". I have a habit of nicknaming things/people and the name "Swell-o-Phonic" is easy to play off of. I then, through the last five years, have coined a lot of things: swellochristmas, swelloween, swelloparty, but most importantly swellofamily/swellofam.
We're obviously a small shop so we typically only have two employees in the store at a time and I found early on that when you spend 8 hrs/day with just one other person, you get to know them very well. On slow days, the air must be filled and I personally love to know everyone's life story and why they tick so there I was asking Daniel Bravo his favorite color and favorite tv shows and why (in full detail) on a slow summer's day. Soon enough, you've pretty quickly got yourself a new friend.
But here's the thing: why have a friend when you can have a BEST friend? We all like similar music so we started seeing each other out at shows and sometimes after work we would plan to hang out. We have favorite customers (SHOUTOUT WHIT RAMSEY) who would tell us to come visit them at their work or come to their shows and how could we resist? #TEAMSWELLOPHONIC / SWELL-o-FAM had to be there (together) to support them the way they supported us.
We've since gone to concerts like Built to Spill where Chane bought us the tickets. We've done an Escape Room. We've gone to funerals, we've gone to graduations, we've gone to wedding receptions. Every year at Christmas, we have a Christmas party and we probably always stay well past our welcome. So, not only are we logging 8 hours together, but we've chosen to spend more - spending time together feels natural.
On top of that, the support system gained through this company has been invaluable. I'm not going to log every thing my coworkers have done for me in the last 5 years but here's some highlights: Daniel doing "the wobble" with my mother at a wedding reception, Daniel also eating a whole potato in 4 bites (I baked it, don't worry, it wasn't raw) for our amusement, Drew checking in on me when he knew my day had been rough, Chris picking out my hair styles/lipsticks before I got ready for work via text message so I didn't have to, Grace and I getting matching "cats against cat calls" shirts and bouncing things off of her when I was in need, Chane offering (telling me to pencil him in) to sit with me while my mother was in hospice.
These aren't things I would ever ask of my friends, but they're things that your family does. Your family shows up when things are hard and your family has your back. We celebrate each others' victories and mourn each others' losses. People peel off to go follow their dreams but at the end of the day, they'll always be a part of it and we'll always add more into our crew.
I may have been the one that coined the term "swellofamily" but there's no doubt in my mind that the basis of it was here well before I came, 20 years ago, and that it'll be here well after I'm gone, 20 years from now. Happy (almost!) 20th birthday #SWELLOFAM , you are so special to so many!