About a year ago, my company was gearing up to open a new branch, and sent a number of trainee staff over to my place. They spent about a month there, getting to grips with the business, and learning from your's truly.
If I'm honest, I hated the experience. I had enough trouble trying to manage my own staff - nevermind suddenly having to look after/babysit a new group of unknowns.
I work in London. West London, specifically. If you know anything about London geography, then you'll know that the West area is widely regarded as the 'nice' bit of town. The East is, literally, the complete opposite. Guess what? Yep. All the staff were sent to me from the East. It was West vs. East - with me caught in the middle.
Then August came, and they buggered off. But before they did, I'd got a reputation as a bit of a ball breaker. Well... I can be; but no more than I need to be. That's important, I think. However, the staff didn't see it that way. I remember one guy (Richard?) who actually walked out on me, and quit the business on my watch. Very intimidating, right up in my face, the guy - easily 50 years old - thrust the resignation note into my pocket.
Their new managers heard. Of course they did. West vs. East remember, and no matter what we were losers. They'd exaggerate stories for effect, and play the two sites off one another.
Not to worry, I thought, they'll be gone soon.
And they were.
Now, there was one lady who took a shine to me. Old enough to be my mum (and then some) Jackie was a typical East Londoner - and all the better for it. To say she was a character was about as understating as saying the Conservatives eat your babies. She had a catchphrase whenever I was around, "Oh Anthony, I love you!" I laughed, and chuckled, and remembered West vs. East. Surely she was playing me off the others?
After she left, some of my staff went visiting her new site. They came back saying things like "Jackie was talking about you." Great, I thought. Nice I'm remembered.
A year later...
I visit the Stratford site where the staff transfered to. There's a few familiar faces from MY site there, who have transferred across since the place opened.
-I see a lady called Simbiot who also trained at my place. She didn't recognise me at first (I'm bearded now!) but then... I saw it, in her eyes, recognition! And a smile!!
She drags Jackie out of the office to come and meet me. The three of us talk, and Jackie and Simbiot say something I never thought I'd hear - "We miss Westfield, and working with you. It was a really good time."
I smile, and hug the women, and leave them to it. But the moment stays with me.
Whether I've been forgiven, or they now wear those infamous rose tinted glasses, I don't know - but a year on, I've redeemed myself in the eyes of those people.
Of course, I know I didn't need to (my job was to manage them, and no need to apologise for that) but it was... special, finally coming to terms with what might have gone wrong with that group of people I bearly even got to know.