Monday, August 22, 2011

Ten years in [retail].

Today is my tenth anniversary with [retail].

I’ve dreaded this day for at least three years, and I was hoping to be out by now. I put in so many applications but nothing came through. And this year I’ve been so busy trying to succeed with Felix that I haven’t put any applications in. Ironically, without even putting in an application I almost had another job, and I threw myself into that attempt, but it didn’t pull through either.

A long time ago I promised myself I’d quit before I hit ten years, if only to force myself to get out there and do something else. But like my roommate's decision to stay with his company instead of quitting just to get away from the bullshit, I need money and I can’t count on finding another job quickly enough to support me.

Where was I ten years ago? I was living in a hotel, The Dover Inn, with my mother. We were desperate for money, and I knew I needed work, so I walked up and down route 13 (Dover’s main street) and put in three applications. One at Toys R Us, one at K-mart, the other at [retail]. All were within easy walking distance of the hotel. [retail] called me back less than 24 hours later.

Back then we were paid weekly, and my paycheck pulled our asses out of the lava more than once. The hotel’s rent was $200 a week, and because mom and I didn’t make a budget back then, we ran out of money all the time. It was my income that saved the day and kept a roof over our heads until our apartment was ready. I was a cart attendant, and it was hard work for my virgin feet, but I did it because mom and I needed to survive.

Ten years later, I’m still here. I thought leaving Delaware would mean life was moving on, and it has to a point. But I still have the same job, so it doesn’t feel like a step up at all. So much has changed. Mom is dead and I’m in Ohio. Never saw myself here back in 2001. Ten years ago, [retail] was about survival. Now it’s about my future.

[retail] has been a stable source of income for ten years. Reliable and relatively easy, but I still resent it. I’m almost 30 years old. By inaction, [retail] is becoming a career, and I don’t want my first job to be my career! There has to be something else out there, but nobody is fucking hiring, so I have to... play it safe. I can't risk being unemployed for any length of time because I have no one to fall back on.

So many people tell me well why don't you go back to school? If you only had a degree, finding a new job would be easy!

Tell that to everyone I know. Literally three out of four people I know have a degree, or A+ certification, or some kind of qualification, and can't find a job in their field. Then there's the debt... News stories like this are all I hear. It's why I wrote Felix and the Sacred Thor.

When I point this out to people, they tell me to apply for a scholarship. To that I argue the odds I’ll get one are good, but the odds it’ll pay for everything are next to nil. It’ll be like shitty health insurance, covering 30%, or 70% or some crap. Still leaves me with a huge chunk to pay on my own. I'd rather live debt free.

But these aren't the reasons I haven't gone. It still makes no sense to go back to school unless I know what I want to do when I get there. I do not want to waste my time and money shooting for a degree I don't even want. If I go for a career that requires secondary education, I want to make sure it's something I can commit to. Something I'll enjoy, and will pay off. I will not go into debt for anything less. High School tried to drill it into my head to get a degree just to have one, but I think so many years of teaching this to kids has hurt America. Now everybody has a degree in something, but so what?

So... Here I stay.

Fuck you, [retail]. Stealing ten years of my life.

Thank you, [retail]. Supporting me for the last ten years of my life.

4 comments:

  1. I know posting this as a stranger is probably very weird, but I have been reading your blog for a few hours after stumbling upon the "Brave Little Toaster" review pieces you wrote--which have been awesome and helpful, by way, as I own the sequel but didn't know the original story was in a magazine I could find--so hopefully it's not completely unacceptable.

    I just wanted to say, kudos to you for supporting yourself and your mom. Also, I'm sorry for your loss and that you're still at [retail], but she appreciated it every day, I'm sure. Getting the first job available is far more than others I know have done to help their families in need. Also, you're obviously an intelligent person and I'd never have thought you didn't have some type of degree by how observant, learned, and well-spoken you are. And funny. I hope that karma gives a lot back to you and that you have success with your writing, getting credits...doing whatever to open a new chapter in your life. Best wishes to you!

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    1. I'm glad my Brave Little Toaster reviews were helpful. I enjoyed checking out the originals.

      And thanks for the kind words. I've been thinking a lot about those days lately. I have it much easier now than i did back then. Friends who can help me, savings... Mom and I had nobody but each other and we were so glad we had that much. It's been four years since she died and now I'm really starting to miss her.

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    2. I like the whole idea of the "Seek the Original" section. Wish there more things like it floating around on the Net. :)

      No problem, I know it's not much to offer. And again, sorry for your loss. If it's any comfort, from an outsider's perspective I think you've done well for yourself and that living debt-free is really smart until you decide if you want to go back to school and such. I totally agree that degrees these days are finicky and many factors depend on whether you can actually make use of them or even find employment. It's so sad that the American university system burdens people with debt inconceivable to people in some countries. But those who can make the best of a situation will always find a way to shine!

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    3. Plenty of people on Goodreads and other review sites do book/movie comparisons, but usually don't devote much time to it. I've always liked to find out what the original is like and I'll keep it up as time permits.

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