Here we are and suddenly eight years have flashed by since March 2007. Maya and I (Marie) have spent thousands of hours together, sharing situations and events, and knowing the same customers, vendors, and employees. Many is the time we’ve just given a knowing look to each other that said everything. It’s the understanding that develops when two individuals become so familiar with one another over the course of nearly a decade. There’s a deep sense of “we’re in this thing together,” and “we know the drill.” I can read Maya’s face and hear the tone of her voice when she’s on the phone answering a question. She tells me what’s going on, with a wink or a nod, a word scribbled on her notepad, a look of interest.
Over the past year since her 7th anniversary at Southgate Coins, Maya and I have been sorting through old paperwork to reduce clutter. Sometimes old emails, daily reports, and notes can bring back a flood of shared memories that will set us talking and remembering. All the events, small and large, which have added up to our history together come into view. It seems so much more meaningful when we remember it together.
Maya began her career with us when the business at our store and across the nation was exciting. Rusty was writing his second book, and the Carson City Coin Collectors of America (C4OA) was only two years old. And back then and in subsequent years, when we were building some of the finest rare coin collections ever assembled, Maya had the opportunity to inspect some incredible specimens. It was heady stuff for a young girl not yet 20 years old, and there was lots for her to learn and experience.
Maya has been with us through some daunting changes that have invaded our industry since the Great Recession. Fewer customers are enjoying the hobby, many of them haven’t been able to afford coins or have been hesitant to spend money for diversionary items such as collectibles, with such an uncertain future ahead. And for years now we have been talking to customers who have been frightened by things happening in the government and the economy, and who hoped to protect themselves by buying gold and silver bullion. Hard assets such as these have taken precedence over hobby collecting. Online retailers of such products have established a huge presence in that market, which squeezes our profit margins to practically nothing. Maya has witnessed all of this from a front-row seat in her position as assistant manager.
We spend far less time during each day telling our visitors stories about collectible coins and their place in history than we once did. Yet we still try to make a visit to our store fun and rewarding for our daily walk-ins. Maya has assisted Rusty in his attempt to replicate a friendly and personal in-store visit on our website. Though there are less one-on-one interactive experiences with customers in our store than there were in what Maya might call our “glory days,” we’re trying to adapt to the new landscape impacting the numismatic industry.
Through the past eight years, Maya has remained committed and supportive as we’ve tried to find our place in the changing business environment. Rusty and I are grateful for the help and support she’s provided us as we’ve been navigating through stormy waters. She’s been a loyal friend to Southgate Coins all these years.
For each of the past seven years (at Maya’s anniversary time) I have enumerated all the things I have appreciated about Maya (her dependability, her helpfulness, her great sense of humor, etc.), and now I will echo them all again, times EIGHT.
We’ve gone through so much together, many good experiences and some hard times. And I don’t know what challenges lie ahead; but I do know that just like in the past, so long as we stick together we can face them! Thank you Maya for being there for us.
Now it’s Rusty turn to pay tribute to our employee who’s been with us longer than any other we’ve ever had.
Okay Marie. Here goes.
Let me take our readers back in time. Do you remember the anxiety sweeping the nation as Y2K approached? Back then, in 1999, fear that network servers worldwide would crash created an almost cult-like paranoid culture, which caused many people to stock up on life’s essentials such as food, clothing, and fuel. Many anxious individuals stockpiled gold and silver in case cash became worthless, as an aftereffect of a collapsed monetary system.
So-called technology experts (and many charlatans) propagated the paranoia by reminding the public that many popular software programs would self-destruct when the calendar turned from 1999 to 2000, because these platforms’ codes computed four-digit years as only two digits. In essence, this would make the year 2000 indistinguishable from let’s say the year 1900.
Apparently, programmers hadn’t had the foresight to write code that would account for a change from one century to the next. It was as if these hackers had assumed that the data that represented years in software would only require the last two digits, because the computers on which the programs operated would only calculate that these digits were preceded by 19. In other words, a computer’s brain would see “90” for the year and recognize it as 1990.
In the end, solutions for the Y2K “bug” were implemented and a cataclysmic crisis was averted.
The lesson here is, it is advisable (imperative) to plan much farther ahead than originally contemplated.
When Marie and I began hiring employees for our rare coin business many years ago, we developed a model based primarily on part-time, short-term assistants, who we would recruit from local colleges in our area. We would train these girls (we’ve always had a predominately female culture) and they would work anywhere from 15 to 25 hours a week during the school semesters, and sometimes add more time to their schedules in the summer. They would normally work for us for nine months to a year and a half. We factored this transitory employment into our strategy at the time we hired them.
Of course there were girls whom we wished would stay longer. But we knew that once they earned their college degrees, or their class schedules changed, or they got married, or they did this or they did that (life-changes happen suddenly and swiftly to young girls between 19 and 25 years of age), we would have to bid them farewell.
Once upon a time, a certain girl was the first to continue working for us for two whole years. We felt so grateful. She left at about the 2 ½-year mark.
Maya entered our lives on March 7, 2007, when we were frantically trying to put the finishing touches on my latest book project. She wouldn’t totally become aware of the mayhem in our back-office area until around the time we celebrated her 19th birthday, about 2 ½ months after she started working for us.
The senior girl we had at the time said to Maya, privately, and detestably, something like, “I would never want to work on another book project.” If Maya had been looking for an excuse to bail on us, the nerve-rackingly, chaotic conditions prevailing at the time would have sufficed.
But she hung in there; long enough to see the book-project-averse senior girl leave 13 months later. And Maya’s still here, eight years after she first donned a blue Southgate Coins’s apron.
During her unprecedented span of time with us, she’s experienced much more stress in the workplace than she encountered during that bombs-bursting-in-air book project back in 2007. She shows up day after day to face whatever challenges there are to confront. No employer could ask for more from a dedicated team member.
Just in the past year, Maya has helped us build a new Southgate Coins website. She has toiled diligently to get our local newspaper to cooperate with us in producing top-quality advertising; all to no avail. She has seen the devastating effects of an unwarranted negative review posted about our company on the irresponsible and unjust website called Yelp, and she’s supported us in our efforts to exonerate ourselves.
As business owners who are constantly putting out fires and trying to survive, it’s consoling to have an employee like Maya who understands what we’re going through, and who’s willing to help in any way she can.
When we first programmed our business model almost three decades ago, we didn’t take into account that an employee might give us eight years of service. Back then, we, with our part-time, short-term perspective, didn’t think it was possible. Maya has caused us to reset our code, similar to what computer and software engineers had to do at the end of 1999 (when Maya was 11 years old) to compensate for new digits for a new millennium. And she’s caused us to do this ever since she hit the fourth-anniversary milestone back in 2011.
If Marie, Maya, and I are all together in March 2017, we’ll need to adjust again to mark the occasion of Maya’s elevation from single-digit status to the double-digit sphere, when we celebrate her 10th anniversary of employment with us. We hope that happens.
Maya, you’ve given us a new numbering system with which to record the longevity of service of a valued right-hand assistant. We are so thankful that you have shown us that something we once thought was inconceivable is possible.
Happy 8th anniversary.
Marie and Rusty