Thankful for my job

Character oozing out of my eyeballs...

I am so fortunate. At this season of life, I'm able to work doing something I truly love, every single day. How many people can say that?  I imagine that all of us have been subject to a character building job once or twice in life. I myself, have had so many of these positions, that I have character oozing out of my eyeballs. There appears to be quite the trend in popular culture to complain about younger generations lacking a work ethic, exhibiting entitlement, or general laziness. I don't have much of an opportunity to work with younger people in my line of work anymore, so I don't know how accurate these assumptions are. What I can say, is that I have had a job since the moment it was legal for me to work. Sure, I've complained about working in the past, trying to skirt by with less than enthusiastic effort in my younger years, but overall- I've been an exemplary employee in most positions. 

I like the frosties...

Yesterday, while driving to the grocery store, my daughter was asking me about things like loans, interest, minimum wage, and why some people make more money than others. She's eleven. This topic led a pretty detailed conversation about my work history. It gave me pause, to think of my personal timeline of employment. It started at Wendy's. They were opening a new store down the street from my house, and were doing a mass hire day through a job fair. I had only a few simple questions to answer in the interview process. It came down to, why do you want this job? I like the frosties. Just like that, I was among the working class. I liked working there. The training was so elementary, that anyone could do the job. I did experience an element of anxiety when working with the public initially, because counting change was a point of insecurity for me, but my confidence grew soon enough. I won an award for making a ten second sandwich. It was such a big deal, that I was awarded a special pin for my hat. It was nice to be acknowledged for a skillset. I took pride in my uniform (though painfully pastel), and was pleased to have spending money for necessities like CD's, and gas.

I was on a ramen budget...

Given age and pseudo-maturity, I graduated to the art of coffee making. I was a barista in an age when people didn't know what such a thing meant. Starbucks wouldn't make it's way to my town for several years, so few locally owned coffee shops were in charge of caffeinating the masses. I enjoyed the customer interaction, predictable orders, and access to magazines. Shift workers could pick their own music to play, and our choices vacillated between the Go-Go's and Front 242's angry techno. Bjork also made her way with an Army of Me on more than one occasion. I can safely estimate that I was making about $5.00/hr plus meager tips. I was on a ramen budget with the intermittent luxury of oreos. 

Tsunami of people...

Waiting tables was next on my list of service jobs. I adored working as a server. Not just for the increased possibility of "making bank" in a given night via tips from drunken Hockey-goers, but the culture of serving offered a kinship that while fleeting, was powerful. There's something about being hit with a tsunami of people following a Dave Matthews concert on a Sunday night with only four staff, that bonds you to others in a way likened only to wartime. Fight or fight takes hold and carries you on pure adrenaline for hours. Never was a cigarette more needed or appreciated. There were years in which my bedtime was clocked at 4 a.m., and morning was sometime after the noon hour had long passed. It was a lifestyle that offered part-time employment, for financial insecurity. Freedom reigned, and memories were made. I made $3.35 plus tips while having to tip out bartenders, bussers, and hosts. I was taxed on all my estimated tips for my sales, and at times opened my paycheck to find a negative amount. It was a time that was filled with stress, drama, and poverty, but it was FUN.

juggling my daughter, single-handedly...

After seven years making my way up the fine dining ladder, I took a sabbatical to have my daughter, and frequent the hospital with a slew of health problems that has kept me grateful for each passing breath since. I left the lack of reliability from serving, for a more secure and functional position as a community assistant at the university. For a few short weekly hours of commitment, I was given free rent and utilities for the school year. This job allowed me to complete grad school while juggling my daughter, single-handedly. Though still poor without question, what I had was cherished. None of these jobs offered health insurance or vacation pay. Those luxuries were laughable by any standard. I had gone through months of illness in the past, without care, There was simply no money for it. Rent and food took priority. 

The days of negative paychecks...

Today, nearly seven years post graduate school, I find myself comfortably interwoven within the the  local healthcare system as a therapist and teacher.  My dedication to school, and tireless sacrifice left my goals fruitful. I get to heal others for a living. The days of negative paychecks, and misogynistic management have passed. I'm not sexually harassed by coworkers (restaurant culture), and if I'm sick, I see a doctor. To some, this may seem like regular life, but to me- it's a big deal. When you've gone without, it's hard to forget the gratitude that comes with these simple blessings. I am eternally thankful for my job. Not only my current position, but the jobs that paved the way to this gratitude I hold as I write these words. Happy Gratitude Tuesday! What are you thankful for?

AM