Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Just A Cashier"

   I was working today, which is not that unusual in and of itself, as I work five days a week, but while I was working, I got one of those customers. One of those insufferable job snobs, who are so insecure about themselves that they feel the need to try and make an honest person earning an honest living feel badly about themselves. Regretfully, this happens often enough. But while I don't like ripping into those who need assistance programs such as food stamps, having been in that program myself some years back (so I know that not all people on this program are like this, not by a long shot), I really don't need the job snobbery from someone who whips out three effing food stamp cards to pay their grocery bill.
   But what makes today special, different from all the other times this has happened, was the fact that today I had a defender, and this defender wasn't myself. This defender was an elderly gentleman, who calmly stated to the woman with the three food stamp cards (something that really shouldn't happen. I had enough trouble getting one card when I needed it, and this woman pulls out three?)  "I was taught by my grandfather the value of hard work. And that if you can work hard and are willing to do whatever job it takes, you will never go hungry, nor will your family. I was taught that no job is shameful if it's honest."
   I am not sure, in this economy, that this statement about going hungry is entirely true, because there just aren't a ton of jobs, and no one can support a family on minimum wage without help of some kind, whether from family and friends or from the government. That being said, having someone stand up for me like that, someone I didn't even know, made me feel good. I am not ashamed of my job, and I wasn't going to give this woman the power to make me feel bad, but I see no reason not to allow the little bit of gladness that came over me when someone stuck up for me. And there is some sense to what he says. If you don't have a job, why can't you work somewhere like a grocery store or a fast food place until you find something better? It beats sitting around and not working at all, right? Wrong, in some people's minds. I don't understand that attitude. Work is work.
    I don't know everybody else's situation, but I can explain mine quite clearly. I have two degrees. I have an AAS  in Library and Information Services, and I have a BA in Health and Human Services. Both degrees looked good to me when I started my education. No, neither of them made megabucks, but all I have ever wanted was to be independent and able to pay my bills, so I was fine with a smaller income. The jobs interested me. Library because I love books and like working with people, human services because I feel that  I have a lot of experience under my belt in regards to partner abuse and living under the poverty line, and I like helping people come up with solutions to problems. (I did know that I needed a Master's in Human Services to do the stuff I want to do. That is a goal for the future; we all need goals to work towards.) Seems like a good fit, right? Well, as much as I like those things, I need to support my daughter.
   When I started working at the place that I work, the grocery store I won't name because I don't want to affiliate myself without permission, I thought this was a temp job while I put myself through college. Then I started working up through the pay raise system, and in order to take a job in either of my degree fields, a starting position, I would now have to take a pay cut. Also, while I was working my way up through the raise system at my cashier job, I became eligible for insurance, something that only takes about 25 hrs a week to be eligible for, when most companies insist on you making around 30 or more hrs to be eligible. Plus that insurance, covering both my daughter and I, including dental and vision, only costs $39.99 a month. That is the combined price for both my daughter and myself, and my insurance is pretty good. Those starter jobs in the fields I have degrees for have only offered part time work in my area, and offer no insurance benefits; a must for a single mom.
    Then there is the stock I own, because my store is employee owned, which I am counting as either part of my retirement, or part of my daughter's college expenses. Perks of my little cashier job, so-to-say. So while my job might not be the most intellectually stimulating, because all I do is check, that job has also allowed me to fill one of my goals: to be able to be independent and provide for my family without the use of government assistance programs. While my job may not require a degree and there are times when, yes, I am working on autopilot, I work with the best people. My coworkers are some of the best people I know, and I have my set of regular customers that I enjoy seeing and talking with while I ring up their order. I love the people I work with, even when I get that bad customer that makes my day suck. And when I get that bad customer, I know that when I get to the break room, there is going to be some coworker upstairs who will laugh about that experience with me. All jobs have things that suck, no matter what that job is. There is going to be some kind of suck factor; you kinda have to deal with that part of life and move on. I have, and I appreciate my job fully, and am thankful. I don't know what the future will bring, but if I work here for life I won't have done badly. Nothing shameful in providing a honest, quality life for your child.
   Even though my attempt to earn a Master's is on hold while I recover from the burnout I suffered while earning that BA, and while I pay off some of the student loans I have racked up, I am quite happy. Another perk of my job? Two weeks paid vacation; so while the woman with the multiple food stamps cards is doing whatever it is she does, I am getting ready for my vacation, and I am going to be visiting one of the most beautiful places in America: Yellowstone. To top that off, I'm going to be paid while I'm there.
  So think about that the next time you are looking down your nose at someone who is working an honest job. Things are not always what they seem to be, so don't make snap judgments; honest advice from an over-educated cashier. 

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