Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Grocery Store Employees Are People Too.

We all know that my opinion is generally not the popular one, so read this and know that I'm speaking in generalities, and that I don't want you to agree with me, that is not the point of this rant. All I want is to add another perspective to the mix. 

I just got back from the grocery store at 11 pm on a Wednesday, and I had a thought that goes something like this:

Lately I've had no less than too many conversations with people who are up in arms about retail stores being open on Thanksgiving. With my opinion of that aside, I find it interesting that people are upset about retail stores opening, but I've never once heard someone be upset that the grocery store is open on Thanksgiving. Never once has someone said "Dammit, I hate that Winco is open until 4 pm on Thanksgiving, those people should be spending time with their families!"

It seems that it's ok for the grocery store to be open on Thanksgiving, those people should be there, but it's not ok for places like JC Penney or Best Buy to open on the night of Thanksgiving.

I have a theory it's ok for the grocery store to be open because they have food, which is what Thanksgiving is really about. (I don't buy into the whole "spend time with your family" part; let's face it, we all go to relatives houses to eat too much food, watch football, and argue.) There are things there that you need, not things you want. No one says anything about how grocery store employees should be at home with their families, because it's convenient for us that they are open on the biggest feast day of the year.

I have spent the last 6 years doing IT support for grocery stores, and let me tell you something- these grocery employees have no problem treating us like shit so you have a smooth and quick transaction at the store buying $300 of groceries for one day. These people have no problem letting us know that Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year and that EVERY single register MUST be up and running by the Wednesday before. It's almost as if we aren't aware of what real life is and that everything revolves around them getting what they want so you, the customer, doesn't have a hard time checking out.

As stated above I just got back from the grocery store at 11pm on a Wednesday. Now I want it to be known that I always shop late at night. Partly cause I'm a night person and partly cause I don't like huge crowds of people. I like when there's 11 customers in the store, not when there's several hundred and I get mad at every kid who's crying and screaming and running in front of me and blocking the aisles when all I want is a flippin box of cereal! I digress. As I was at the store tonight there were TONS of people. I mean take my regular 11 customers and multiply it by whatever a lot more of that is, and that is how many people were there. And you no what? All of the workers there were friendly. The guy at the self checkouts was thanking every single customer and telling them happy Thanksgiving. The poor stockers had to run around way too many people to get their jobs of making sure there is food on the shelves for us to stuff into our faces later done. The managers were ringing up customers because it was so busy and that is what good managers do. You know what I saw though? I saw a lot of people who were frustrated they had to wait in line so long to check out. They were upset they had to be at the store the night before Thanksgiving and every register wasn't open. They were annoyed there was a line for the self checkouts. And none of them, not one person, told the cashier who was telling them happy Thanksgiving the same thing. He was making sure people were getting their bagging errors cleared in a timely manner, calling customers to the front so they were aware registers were open, having a positive attitude while having to work late on the busiest night of the year eve, and not one person took the time to at least tell him happy Thanksgiving.
I finished bagging my groceries, and it hit me that I should thank this guy. He's here working when he could be at home spending time with his family, with the wife and 3 kids I imagine him having, playing with his dog and dreading having to see his in-laws tomorrow; but he's not. He's at work, trying to make my experience as pleasant as it could be. That's pretty damn selfless, and I appreciate that. I am a huge fan of positive reinforcement, so as weird as it might have seemed, I looked at him and said "hey man, thank you for working tonight. I know it's not easy or fun, but I appreciate it."
At first he looked at me like a freak, like "ugh, what?" but then he got a smile on his face and said "thank you." I very rarely pay attention to the cashiers at the store, and I don't know why tonight I felt like doing it. I also don't think it really did anything for this guy, he forgot who I was and what happened 6 seconds after the fact, but I just wanted him to know for that split second that what he's doing matters, even if it seems minimal to most.

Maybe instead of being up in arms about how retailers are opening on Thanksgiving and trying to tell each other not to shop on that day, or Black Friday, (something I won't be doing myself, but I'm not gonna tell you what to do, you're your own person) we should spend a little more time thanking the cashier at the grocery store for working on a holiday, and for being away from their families, and for working on a day when many people think they should be sitting at home with their pants unbuttoned cause they ate too much food, hating the Cowboys and fighting with their family members. Instead of sitting back and telling people why they shouldn't do something, why not do something yourself and try to make someone smile. And try to remember, Amor Vincit Omnia-- Love Conquers All.

Monday, June 3, 2013

An Urgent and Horrifying News Story! (No, It's Not a Cannonball)

So here's the thing: my whole life I have felt like everyone around me has had this mentality that to be successful meant going to college and being $50,000 plus in debt, getting a job that pays the same per year, getting married, having kids and buying a house. Maybe getting a dog and for sure having a car they paid well over $10,000 for. I have never agreed with that though. I don't think that to be successful means owning a house and being in a relationship and having what "everyone else" does. Being successful means doing what makes you happy, and doing what you're passionate about. Don't have a fancy car? That's fine. Aren't tens of thousands in debt? That's awesome! Don't want to get married and "settle down?" As long as you're happy, who cares what others think!

I don't want to settle down at 28, get married, and be "stuck." Yes I've been content with my life for the last 8 years in Idaho, but the same restlessness that brought me here is pulling me in another direction. I don't feel like I've accomplished everything I could here, there's always room for more, but I do feel pulled to go do more living. For the last 6 years I've been stuck at a job I'm not passionate about. For 4 of those years I loved it. I loved being able to come in and enjoy my job and feel content, but the last 2 years have shown me why I've never wanted a desk job where I'm not doing anything but lining the pockets of already rich people; I'm not doing any type of social good-- I'm not helping anyone the way I feel I should be.

I moved to Boise when I was 20 years old with a U-Haul trailer full of furniture, 2 cats, a dream job I'd wanted since 7th grade and the only person I knew was my dad, who I had a strained relationship with. Since then I've owned my own "home," (a trailer without hot water, a stove and a quarter of a roof), lived with various different people, was adopted by 2 stray cats, made friends, lost friends, gone to therapy, purchased a dream scooter, become a Big Sister in BBBS to an awesome now adult, helped mentor several children, grown a family of friends, became a Christian, helped start a church that my heart was and is still truly invested in, and been happier than I ever have in my whole life.

2 years ago I was at an Iron and Wine concert at the Knitting Factory where a band I had recently heard of was opening. I went to see the opening band more than I&W and after the show I had a chance to stick around and talk to them for a bit. Besides being one of the best live bands I've ever seen they were also some of the most down to earth people. I ended up talking to one of the guitar players/singers for a while and we were talking about places that are cool to play and where we were from etc. He said he had always wanted to live in Seattle so one day he moved up there. I told him I'd like to live in Austin or D.C., those are my dream places. Then he said something simple that has stuck with me ever since; "why don't you?"
I remember at the time saying something like "work, life, you know." He shrugged it off and accepted it but honestly I have thought about that hundreds of times since that day. At the time I was perfectly content with my life. I had a job I liked, I had a house to live in that I loved, I had great friends and I was doing things I felt were important. Why would I leave when I liked where I was at?
Well fast forward 2 years and I am no longer content with where I am at. Yes I have a place to live that I love, yes I have great friends that take care of me, yes I finally have a church home that I ADORE and truly believe in, but there is still that part of me that isn't settled. I have felt for the last year that I was stuck at my job and I wouldn't be able to leave until I got into the teaching program at BSU in about a year. It honestly never once occurred to me that I could leave. It was always "I'm going to stick it out. I have a secure job, it's not hard, it pays for me to help other people, I have seniority, benefits, vacation time etc. I have an amazing life." But those things aren't enough. Yes the good outways the bad, but I'm not happy. Why stay with something that I'm not happy with? I always say that if people aren't happy with the way things are going, to change it. Yet here I've been for a year doing the same thing and not changing. Well that's all about to change.

I would like to announce that I plan on moving to California in January and seeing where life takes me. The current plan is to stay until August or so and come back, but we'll see what happens. I'm going to be selling all of my stuff gradually and taking only 30ish possessions with me, including my cats. I've processed this with 4 different friends, and each gave me different advice. One said that I need to make sure when I go I make sure I am living with purpose. Another said it's a terrible idea, what are you gonna do there? What are you going to do when you come back? How are you going to afford it? Another said it's a great idea and she's jealous but excited I will be there to go to Disneyland with her. The other was God and he said in no specific terms that I should go and life a life I've imagined and one that will bring honor to Him-- and I will do that.

Several things have happened in the last few weeks that have encouraged me to do this. One of them was a friend from church that without knowing any context or knowing that I have wanted to do this for a long time said to me, "If this is what makes your heart sing-do IT! We would miss you, but you need to live life on purpose!"

Another was a Twitter post of this picture by Zach Braff:


This is something I've been chewing on for a while, and I've wanted to live in California for like a year since I was a teen, and these things happening are helping solidify my decision.

Like I said, this is currently my PLAN. It does not mean this will happen, but with God's will and the prayers and good thoughts of friends and family, this will come to fruition. I don't know where I will stay, I don't know anyone there, I don't know when or if I will come back, I don't know if I will have a job, and I don't know if this will actually happen, but I do know that with a little planning, a lot of heart and determination I will do what my heart desires and live a story worth telling.

Editor's note:

Here's a song by the band I was talking about seeing, it gives me chills every single time. Also, they have since become my favorite band and I've traveled to see them several times. When they were in town last year and everyone in the crowd sang along was one of the greatest moments of my life.

Rivers and Roads

Here's another song that I find inspirational. Because there ARE too many things I haven't done yet, and too many sunsets I haven't seen.

Things I Haven't Seen