This is the first Monday of my blog, and as usual, I have decided to make myself a “mandatory” daily post. I am sitting around today and just trying to relax, so you may see more than one post for me, but this will be the weekly type of post that you will see every Monday. Monday’s Message posts are a little random, but they will all teach something to people if they are interested to learn. As with all of my posts, the opinions and statements made will be left up to interpretation and will be based mostly on my opinions and experiences. These posts may involve just about anything, but will often be based around interactions with family or friends, or work experiences. So enjoy this first one and let me know what you think!
Working in retail is awful. Just awful. There are these things called “customers” who expect us “retailers” to slave over items for them every day of the year, regardless of hour, day of the week, or extenuating circumstances (can we say hello to Christmas???). Often times we have to wear special uniforms, show up for shifts early, and stay late to accommodate customers. It’s not the end of the world for those of us who love doing things for people, for those of us who like to make a difference in someone’s day and put a smile on your face. Sounds great right?
But don’t be fooled; being a retail associate is like being on a roller coaster. There are so many different possibilities for how your day will go that you can never be 100% sure what you are getting yourself into. Let’s start at the beginning….
Molly is sixteen and wants her own car. She may still be going to school, but our society doesn’t care. If she ever hopes to make anything of herself, she better start working now so that she can build up her experience (and her savings account). After eight hours of school a day, Molly gets picked up by her mom. In the car, she scrambles to eat a supper of granola bars and peanut butter crackers. Within fifteen minutes, the car pulls to an abrupt halt outside of the local grocery store. Surrounded by food, Molly rushes down the aisles towards the employee lockers. After stuffing her purse, cell phone, and keys inside, she runs down the hall to the bathroom to change into her uniform. The shirt is bright orange and plaid. Some people might be able to pull it off, but with her light complexion and round shape, she looks in the mirror and instantly thinks, “I look like a fruit. A big, orange. Great.” But there’s nothing she can do about it. She pins her name tag onto her shoulder (it must go on the right, never the left according to the Employee Handbook) and runs out the door.
For three days a week this is Molly’s routine. She goes straight from school to work and deals with customers for five hours. Most days she loves the job, the feeling of being an adult, and the opportunity to socialize after school. But this is not fun. Even though the town is small, people walking through the store buying groceries for their family always seem to be in such a rush. Many of them are grumpy if they have to wait in line for even a minute. But there are only three registers in the entire store and three people can only work so fast.
By the time Molly gets off of work, she goes home, showers, and stays up until 11 doing homework assignments. She rarely ever gets it done anymore, but at least she still tries to put in some effort. Molly’s dream is to be a nurse, but without good grades and the wages that she makes, she’ll never make it to college, let alone afford the car she’s been wanting since she got her license a month ago.
The weekends are normally better for Molly. And we say better, because it all depends on the customers (again). For eight hours on Saturday and Sunday, Molly works at the store, scanning product after product like a robot. Again good conversations happen with customers, but other people- parents with 5 or 6 kids- can be pushy and rude when their kids start to get restless. There’s nothing more Molly can do but ask for someone to help her bag the products, but even that does not suffice to meet their needs.
Day in and day out, Molly works at the grocery store. She never goes to Church with her family anymore, never gets to go to the movies, and barely has time to breathe. This is the life that she has chosen- as is the opinion of her best friend Tory- but one that will lead her to (hopefully) a more comfortable life down the road. Forget about her wants, forget even half of her needs; if Molly hopes to survive in this society, she must work equally hard at both school and her job.
We think that Molly’s life is extremely difficult, but normal for most of the teenagers that we know today. Working a part-time job gives them good work ethic, and as long as they don’t plan to do much else with their life, they will have time to relax and rest as well. Molly’s situation isn’t the worse though. There are many others who struggle even more than she does. Take this story for example…
David is a full-time college student who already owes $70,000 to his college. If he ever hopes to make it through his senior year, he must also work full-time as a sales associate in the local mall. David attends a state college close to home. He still lives with his parents and struggles to get to class on time. His professors call him lazy and act as though David is the worst student they have ever seen. Yet in reality, David is by far the smartest student in each of his classes. He could be the smartest in the entire school. The problem is that David didn’t start working as early as Molly did. His parents never went to college, so they don’t have jobs with the means to support his tuition. His teachers expected great things of him, but now all David wants is to quit school and work so that he can afford to pay for more than Ra-men noodles. In November, David will have no choice but to stop pursuing his career goal of being a teacher. At least for the time being. Because colleges have this lovely program where, if you want to be a teacher or a doctor or some other professional, you sometimes have to work a few months for free. The experience is amazing! The things that you learn cannot be read out of a textbook. But David won’t be able to survive three months without any pay. These things that people call “internships” are blessings and evils all at the same time. At least that is the case for many college students who cannot ask their parents for help. There are ways around this issue, and David will finish school in a few years, but he won’t graduate with the rest of the students his age. He won’t see a classroom until he’s 30, and the lack of experience that he will deal with in the next few years will make it even harder for him to get a job when that time comes.
And so we think that David’s life is hard. Many people have it easier, and some have it way worse. But throughout it all, he still has to keep his goals in mind while helping out around the house, working, going to school, and trying to find a minute to breathe. Having two or three part-time jobs is hard, but having two or three full-time jobs is even harder.
These stories are all about students of one age or another though. And sure, I’m picking out the negatives here and pointing out the horrors of retail sales. It’s not all bad, and it’s not impossible to deal with. Some of us love retail jobs. I know I used to. But for the hassle that these people go through every day, their paychecks might as well be non existent. Yes, every little bit helps, but these people help to RUN our country without many of us even realizing it. It takes everyone to make our world work. It takes hours and hours of time to build a product, grow some food, clean it all up, distribute it, and sell it to people like us. I may be focusing on the fact that retail associates work their butts off and deserve way more than they get for their time and effort, but in all reality, there are so many of us that deserve more for what we give.
The Bible says we should give and not worry about taking, that we should open our hearts to everyone and not shut anyone out. But this society that our ancestors have created doesn’t work in accordance with any of those lovely thoughts that the Bible intends for us to follow. If you don’t push for raises and better jobs- if you don’t force yourself to earn as much money as possible and worry about it daily- you must either be a genius or work for the government.
So to all those of us who are struggling through life, regardless of our career paths and family situations, I say we deserve more. To all those who feel like their life is perfect, I dare them to question how often they have been snippy or mean or just plain rude to someone else to get where they are. And for those of us who are somewhere in between the rich and famous and the homeless and poor, I push us the most; to make a change, to start with the small things, and to believe in the big things. Maybe stressing and working so hard all the time isn’t the answer. Maybe we need to take a step back and get back in touch with our emotions and what is truly right. Because without each other, without love, we’re nothing. Nothing any better than the government officials who try to take away our rights and say they will fight for us, while eating bigger meals and driving better cars than any of us will ever even think to dream of.
Not everyone is evil, but everyone can be better. I challenge everyone who reads this to make a small difference in their life, not just today, but every day. It doesn’t have to be huge,-you don’t have to donate your entire life savings or anything drastic. But think about this- the next time you walk through Walmart and see the (normally) elderly man or woman standing at the door to greet you, beat them to it. Say hi, and on the way out of the store, wish them a good day. What’s the harm? They won’t reach out and bite you and they definitely won’t put up a fight. There’s nothing wrong with putting a small smile on someone else’s face at least once a day. So I challenge you to do just that. Because maybe, just maybe, if we all make small steps towards treating each other better, maybe all of this nonsense about financial burdens and wars with other countries won’t be seem bad. Maybe somehow, if we’re nice to each other, people will follow our lead. And if everyone has just a little bit of heart, maybe we can impact this country in more than one small way. In the end, your one daily act of kindness may lead to a larger act of kindness on someone’s else part. Before we think we can change the whole world at the drop of a hat, let’s try to change ourselves first. Stay true to who are and believe in whichever religion you feel is right for you. But at the end of the day, get in touch with those emotions and do something good for someone else just because you can. Sooner or later, maybe we’ll all stop leaving others behind us, homeless, needy, and sick.
If you have a good idea for how someone can make the smallest difference, leave your thoughts below. I look forward to hearing some great ideas that I can use in my own life to set forth the kind of good that everyone deserves to see and feel in their lives.