“They call me Sheila B.”

Macy's Sheila B Chicago
Macy's Sheila B Chicago
Sheila B. has been working at Macy’s in downtown Chicago for over 15 years. Even though she’s been offered multiple promotions to become a manager, she’d rather stay working as a supervisor on the food court floor where she gets to interact with customers. “I don’t want to go upstairs and sit behind a desk,” she told me. “I’m a people person.”

“Hey baby, whatchu havin’?”

It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I was in downtown Chicago for a conference. I decided to go to Macy’s for lunch.

When I reached the seventh floor, I couldn’t help but notice Sheila B. She was working the counter, juggling orders for tortas, tamales, and even green lemonade (a St. Patrick’s Day special and her idea). Her voice was warm and honey-like. And even though the lines were long at the food court that Saturday, no one was complaining. There was something about Sheila B. that softened people’s impatience.

When it was my turn to approach the register, I saw the pin on her sweater: “15 years of service.”

“Wow, you’ve been here 15 years?” I said.

“More than 15,” she told me. “And loving every minute of it.”

This made me curious. She seemed to love her work. What made her love it so much? Why had she stayed in the same place for so long?

I asked if I could interview her to learn more. It was too busy to talk during the lunchtime rush so I came back later that afternoon when she’d finished her shift.

Sheila B. reminded me that fulfilling work is made up of some pretty basic ingredients. It’s about being able to bring your best gifts to what you do and experiencing a sense of belonging.

But don’t take my word for it. Hear her tell it, in her own unmistakable voice.

Sheila B Macy's Chicago

music credits:
johnny_ripper (artist), “opening credits” (track), soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist (album) license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE

Chris Zabriskie (artist), “The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan” (track), Undercover Vampire Policeman (album), license: CC BY 4.0

Weekend America: Lobster Man

Lobster Man

Lobster Man is an audio feature about a middle-aged fisherman living in Maine who randomly discovers the Brazilian martial art of capoeira and then decides to trade in his lobster traps for a life-changing solo sailing expedition down the East coast to Brazil. The story focuses on the main character, B.J. Murphy, as he’s readying his 26″ boat “Buttercup” to set sail in the middle of a Maine winter. Lobster Man aired nationally on APM’s Weekend America in January 2007 and was co-produced with Josh Gleason. (Photo: Amanda Kowalski)