Here at AAT, we love celebrating employment milestones of all kinds! Whether it’s someone who’s worked at a fast-food restaurant for years or a superstore for decades, we love being able to sit down with individuals who have been proud to show up to work every day. Why? Because what you do has value. It doesn’t matter what your job title is, by showing up to work every morning or night, you are serving the Elko area community in ways you may never know. For example, today’s guest has worked at a printing center for quite a while. She’s not just going in, pushing a button and making copies of paper. She’s built relationships with numerous people who have invited her into their lives by having her assist in something essential and needed to possibly succeed in a career, celebrate a life event, or ensure stability. She is a valuable part of the progression of many individual’s stories, and if she didn’t show up to work for a while, people would notice!
This week, we’re joined by none other than Liz Silva. 2019, will mark the twentieth year Liz has worked at Elko’s OfficeMax store, with over a decade of that time spent supervising its printing center. You can also thank Liz for the beautiful hot-air balloons you see in the sky every year as she been heavily involved in helping run the Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival and currently serves as the president of the Balloon Club.
Thank you for joining us this week, Liz! Happy soon-to-be employment anniversary! Did you ever think you would work in a printing center growing up? How did you come into your position in the first place?
“When I was in elementary school, my mother worked for a small publishing company. If she had work to do on the weekends, my sister and I would go with her; sometimes this would entail going into some of the local print shops. I always loved the smell of the ink and the paper; I loved that environment. I’ve always worked in retail, but never really thought about getting into the realm of printing. However, I started working at OfficeMax when they first opened here in 1999; I started in the back at receiving. I liked working there because I relished the peacefulness of being in the back, only having to really engage with the UPS and truck drivers.”
“Honestly, I hated going up to the print department, at first, because all the machines were intimidating to me. Slowly and surely, they would teach me more, and I would ask more questions. The supervisor at the time was getting ready to move, and they told me I was the only person in the store who could step in until they could find somebody. After about a week I asked them not to look for anybody else and to give me a chance at it. The first couple months were hard. I was self-learning before they sent me off to my official training. When I returned, I was ready to go and haven’t looked back. That was about ten years ago, and I love it! I’m either crazy or love what I do! It’s actually a little bit of both.”
From printing documents on the ground to soaring in the skies in a balloon, you’re a woman of many talents, Liz. Let’s talk about your love for ballooning for a second. You’re heavily involved with the events around here and even desire to be a pilot yourself one day; that’s pretty cool!
“I offered to help a local pilot I met at a Business After Hours event; I thought I was just going to help one morning, but the pilots’ riders didn’t show up, so I got to go on my first balloon ride. They say the first ride is free and the second will cost you about twenty-grand! If I had twenty-grand in the bank, I would have gone all in right then, but I don’t, so I’m taking the process slowly. I’m one of three student pilots in Elko right now; they have these big flying schools you can go to, but if a pilot is willing to teach me, I’m willing to learn. I need to have ten hours of flight time, and right now I have two and a half! For now, I’m just enjoying the atmosphere and teamwork that goes into it. It has its own little community; it’s like a family reunion every time we can get together.”
Liz, as someone who has worked at one location for so long in our town, I’m sure it’s safe to say you have developed a unique perspective on the community. What are your thoughts on Elko, and why do you still love printing its residents’ papers after all these years?
“I love the people in Elko; we have the best customers in this town. For every one customer you have with a bad attitude, you’ll have nine of them who are the salt of the Earth. You hear a lot of people complain about the lack of things to do or places to shop, however, those things are so minuscule compared to the people and history here. I honestly can’t imagine living anywhere else; the people here can just suck you in, in a good way.”
“When I first moved to Elko, I worked at Payless Shoes; I have customers to whom I sold their preschooler’s first pair of school shoes, and now I’m printing their graduation announcements, wedding inventions, and baby shower invites! I call them my “OfficeMax kids”; I get to see these people grow up.”
So, it’s true, you are able to be a part of many of your customers’ milestones!
“Absolutely, and not just the happy ones, unfortunately, the hardest jobs for me are when I have to print things for funerals. It’s hard when you know the person who’s passed, and you have to keep that professional exterior about you. There’s a lot of times when I have to go into the break room or outside and have a little cry because I can empathize with the people. I always feel a little humbled and honored though because people are letting me into their joys and sadness.”
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See you around, Elko!