Here at Lockaway Storage, we know our success is due to our wonderful team. The care they give our renters is unparalleled and we want to highlight their milestones along the way. Below is an interview with Texarkana team member Tia Alston, who is celebrating her 1-year anniversary with Lockaway Storage this week.
Peter: It’s your one year anniversary, is that correct?
Tia: Yes, it sure is.
Peter: Cool, cool. How did you get involved with Lockaway Storage in Texarkana?
Tia: I was actually a pharmacy technician for 4 years before I started not liking what I was doing and I just prayed and I made the decision to find something I was going to like and the next thing I know Ashley is giving me a call asking if I wanted this position.
Peter: Really? Wow, it’s funny how things like that work out.
Tia: Exactly, exactly. I had never thought about self storage or anything that feeds into it until I got the call and then I realized that this was a whole different world on this side of stuff.
Peter: Definitely different than being a pharmacy tech, I can imagine. What are some of the things about storage that you have found to be particularly different than your previous jobs?
Tia: It’s more in-depth with people. I know it’s crazy to think I was giving people medicine and knowing everything that’s going on with their bodies, but by just speaking with someone I find out so much more and people are so willing to talk whenever they come in there. I found it kind of different. The customer service that I give is the same, but I get back so much more.
Peter: That’s pretty much in keeping with what I have found in self storage. It is a super personal business to be in, because you are taking care of people’s stuff, after all.
Tia: Exactly. It’s a different vibe, but it’s still kind of the same in a way.
Peter: After a year, do you have any specific stories or moments from your time in self storage?
Tia: Yes, yes. I actually just had one when I was at the Pleasant Grove store. I had a lady, she came in and she had never stored before. She was telling me about how her and her husband got married at 17 years old and they bought their first house and she said that after 25 years they were moving out of that house, they were selling that house, and she came in in tears and she was just worried about what their next step was going to be. She had no idea what was going on. She didn’t know what she needed to do and, you know, of course, I’m here to help her. I showed her everything about the storage and then once we got back to the office she just started telling me everything about her story, everything about her life, her kids and how she was terrified to take them away to the next step. Talking to me and me making her feel so comfortable, she just felt like this was the right thing to do. I’m going through something too myself, so I just told her that I give that faith over to God and I have that belief something’s going to work out. She felt the same way and she said that from talking to me she felt 100% more comfortable doing this next thing, even though she doesn’t quite know what’s going to happen, but she knows God has a plan for her. I guess speaking with a complete stranger made her feel like there has to be something else going on. Me and her sat there and we cried together. She held my hand and we prayed together and, you know, after that I’m sure she loved Lockaway. She definitely rented a unit. She was just so surprised that she could come into a self storage place and find someone who is going through the same thing as her and she just felt so relieved over everything.
Peter: Dang, I bet. That’s a pretty heavy story.
Tia: It just felt so… I don’t know. I’ve had a lot of stuff happen to me, but I feel like I will not forget her. I’ve never had anybody come in that way, who felt so strongly about how I was making her feel she just felt like crying. That made me feel really proud, like I am doing the right thing. I have to be doing the right thing.
Peter: I did not expect that.
Tia: You pull some heart strings sometimes, but it’s worth it.
Peter: Yeah, no kidding. Well, to change directions, you’re not always at the self storage facility. Do you have any hobbies that you want people at Lockaway Storage to know about?
Tia: I have a huge 50 gallon fish tank at home and I take care of five different species of fish and twenty fish total. My fiance thinks I am crazy for loving my fish the way I do, but he’s even gotten into it. I go home, take care of my fish, talk to my fish, and they breed and everything. One other thing I just started getting into is we just started getting into really big traveling to places we haven’t been before. I just turned 24 and he turned 24 a couple months ago and we thought it was just time to get out and see the world. We just pick different places. It’s the right time. You know, financially everything’s ok, so why not? If we can afford it, let’s go ahead and do it.
Peter: Do you live in Texarkana, Texas right now?
Tia: Yeah, we live in Texarkana.
Peter: How do you like it? I’ve only been there the one time.
Tia: Oh, my goodness. Why do you think we are trying to travel? There’s nothing wrong with the city, but for people my age leaving is the best thing about living here. Don’t get me wrong. I come to work and i am happy. I go home and I am happy, but when the weekend comes, I want to get out and drive, because if we stay here, we’re just going to stay in the house.
Peter: How long have you lived in Texarkana?
Tia: It’s been 10 years. I might as well call this home. A little over ten years.
Peter: What brought you there in the first place?
Tia: My dad, he’s a firefighter for the military. The base he was working on during 9/11 was closing down, because there were so many people moving around. I was really young at the time, so I don’t remember exactly why, but he needed to find a new job, so he found a weird little place called Texarkana. He was like, “Hey, y’all. Pack up. Let’s go!” It’s been a good move.
Peter: That’s awesome. I love to hear that. Do you have any favorite restaurants in Texarkana?
Tia: That’s one thing that’s good about here. There is always something to eat. My favorite place to eat at here restaurant wise is Iron Wood Grill and for fast food I always go back to Golden Chick. They’re amazing chicken places. Iron Wood Grill is a steak place.
Peter: I actually forgot a question about self storage I wanted to ask earlier. Is there anything that you have learned from working in self storage that you think you wouldn’t have learned at another job?
Tia: I guess working here has made me a less, this is going to sound horrible, has made me a less judgemental person, because you never know what kind of struggles people are going through. Like I was saying earlier, people come in here and tell me their whole life stories without me saying too many words to them. It shows me that people could be going through anything regardless of what they look like, regardless of anything. You can’t genuinely judge a book by it’s cover, because you just never know.
Peter: That’s a good point.You’re right.
Tia: Anybody who walks through the door, I treat them as if they were my grandma or my mother, because you don’t know what somebody might be going through.
Peter: That’s a good way to operate.
Tia: I don’t know if I would have learned that anywhere else, but being here and everybody just being so appreciative of everybody makes me more open to being accepting and understanding of people. Everybody’s going through something and you just don’t know what it could be.
Peter: And being a self storage professional, you’re in a unique position where you meet a lot of people who are going through a transition period in their lives.
Tia: Yeah. I had a lady come in here one time telling me she was running away from her boyfriend.and I’ve had people moving out of the home they’ve owned for 25 years. There are all different situations.
Peter: At the end of these, I like to ask if there is anybody you’d like to give a shoutout to at Lockaway. Is there anybody who’s helped you out during the last year?
Tia: Could it be more than one person?
Tia: Okay, well, it’s really everybody here in Texarkana. Everybody had been so helpful all of the time. Always making sure that I have what I need to be successful with my day and being at the store. At the beginning of June I had a wreck and the car was totaled instantly and everybody here has been so helpful with me going back and forth to therapy, to the chiropractor and everything. I just really appreciate it, because I don’t know any other place I could work where it would be like that. For them to extend their arms and help me even on the weekends, it’s incredible to me. I don’t know how to say how much I appreciate it. Everybody deserves a shout out here.