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Deciding That Enough Is Enough

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I was pulling stray carts from the parking lot at my former job at the ‘big box’ store when two gentlemen walked by and said, “Don’t they have a machine to do that?!?!?”

I smiled and said, “The machine isn’t reliable. I am, so they send me out here.”

One of the men looked down at my dirty hands and scuffed tennis shoes and said, “That’s when I’d tell the boss to take his job and shove it. I’d never push shopping carts for a living.”

The other man laughed and said, “Oh geez, no!”

They pushed their cart toward me and left. I stacked ten carts in a line and began to push them to the cart corral. As the tears started to trickle down my face, I couldn’t help but think that those words were probably something I would have said before I lost my job. I have a university degree with high honors and over a decade of management experience. I would have never seen myself at this point either.

I stopped, leaned my head on the cart handle (I know – germs – but I was distraught), and thought, ‘I have two options. I can either quit and go home OR I can bust my butt and get a paycheck – tiny or otherwise.’

I wish I could say it was an easy decision – but I had my head on that darn handle for at least 5 minutes.

I finally wiped my face and got back to work.

If this is what it takes to pay my bills, THIS is what it takes.

Our successes and failures are based on our attitudes. We can give up and fail… or we can decide that enough is enough and bear down for a fight.

I’m ready to fight.

Are you with me?


41 Comments

  • Reply Rags |

    “Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain. -Anonymous”

    That was just another bump in the road. I’m glad that you were able to get past it. Ignore all the people who try to put you down, their opinion only has as much power as you give them.

    – Rags

  • Reply Margaret |

    Damm right I’m with you. There are too many out there thinking that the world owes them. And guess what, you’ll find them waiting in queue at the bankruptcy court.

    Margaret

  • Reply Katy |

    Beks, I was so moved by your post! I have been in your position, too! So much so that the other week, when I was wearing a red shirt in K-mart and a man came up to me to ask where he might find more shampoo, I also started crying. I didn’t want to be identified as someone who worked there…who did THAT for a living. It’s a scary place. I’m so proud that you did what you had to do and got your paycheck anyway. Hang in there.

  • Reply SusanLI |

    There is NOTHING wrong with any honest days work for an honest days pay. Surely our society has not come to the point that we think that people can be “beneath” us based solely on what honest people do for a living?! Very sad.

    Good for you – I’m sorry that there were tears and a decision involved. You should be confident that you are doing whatever needs to be done to pay the bills – the pompous blowhards who can say, “I’d NEVER …” – well, who needs them!

    🙂

  • Reply Nina |

    Unfortunately, many of us have this glamorized, idealized vision of how we’re supposed to live. We’ve been fed this by the media – commercials and t.v. shows tell us how we should live, how we should dress, what sort of cars we should be driving, etc.

    Even if they were in a better situation, no one should talk that way to another person because we’re equals. It’s a shame that they lack compassion.

    Don’t let them get to you. As long as you keep your mind set on your own goals and values, no one has the right to make you feel less than your own sense of self worth.

  • Reply TMF |

    I am always amazed at what some people find “beneath them.” I grew up in a family business – transmission shop. You did whatever needed to be done. I’ve filled soda machines, thrown and swept oil dry, done the “books”, gone to court, cleaned greasy tools (and for a girl in the 70’s NOT a glamorous job). But this business kept us fed, clothed, and a roof over our heads. I believe having an attitude of “do what needs to be done” has really helped me over the years. The two jerks in the parking lot were just that – jerks. All these jobs keep our economy moving and are done by REAL people and each and every one of them deserve respect for getting out there and working! I try to be polite, look minimum wage earners in the eye, smile, and THANK them for provided a service for me.

  • Reply Qcash |

    Keep going. At the end of the day, you aren’t defined by your job. You are defined by how you live your life.

  • Reply donna |

    Just wanted to add a ‘yeah that’ to what Qcash said (as well as everyone else!). Hold your head up that you aren’t sitting around waiting for a job to show up on your doorstep. You are in control of your destiny because YOU choose to be. Walk with your head up and be proud.

  • Reply Rosie |

    i have a bachelors and a master’s and I am currently working on my PhD and professional credentials. Right now I am on unpaid maternity leave (a year in Canada, though for non-students it’s usually paid for at least 6 months). My husband is at risk of being laid off temporarily. In ONE second I would get a job flipping burgers if it meant keeping a roof over my head and not filing for bankruptcy. We do what we need to do. Good on you!

  • Reply Stephanie PTY |

    People just don’t get it sometimes. Frankly, I got a lot of crap from customers (and people who weren’t really customers, since they didn’t buy anything) when I worked on my family’s hot dog cart. People sometimes assume that if you work in a service industry, it’s not by choice, and you’re beneath them. They had no idea that what I was doing was a family business, and that I was making way more money per hour than an internship would have paid me.

    Of course, one of the advantages of working for a family business is that you can decide that “The customer is totally WRONG” and say something!

    Don’t let people who don’t understand get you down. Everyone hits highs and lows in their lives, and people just need to be more understanding of the lows.

  • Reply Melanie |

    Good for you and try not to let those pompous ******** get to you. I would rather push carts for a living than go bankrupt. They’re the type that would ruin themselves financially rather than do what it takes to earn an honest living. The idea that no job is better than a job “beneath” them is a pompous, arrogant, irresponsible attitude to take.

    I’ve done waitressing, fast-food and factory work. While I didn’t enjoy these jobs, I worked with people who did (and who were much better at it than me) and I respect them for the good work they do.

  • Reply Abby |

    You go, Beks! Years ago, when we were in high school, a friend of mine told me that her mother had pushed carts at the local grocery store. She’d eventually gotten promoted to a full-time cashier spot, ended up training as a florist and went from the grocery store flower counter to a rewarding job in a flower shop.

    We’ve lost touch, but I still remember that story as a great example of grit and determination.

    We don’t know where life will take us, but giving it your all is never a mistake.

    My current job is “less than” what I “should” be doing, too – but it is the only choice possible for me right now, and I refuse to apologize for not living up to someone else’s expectations.

  • Reply Katie |

    The way one treats “minimum” wage workers shows a lot of their own character.

    I remember when I first started bartending, I cried every night for a week. I never thought I would “end” up there.

    Then I decided to hold my head up high. Sure, some bartenders have horrible reputations and certainly some of the comments made towards me are hurtful and even down right demeaning. But I do what my job entails…. I serve drinks, I clear tables, I stock beer, etc. This job is how I provide for my family while I finish my degree. I am honest and hardworking and I have nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t dress provocative and I don’t lead people to believe things that aren’t going to happen. I feel that if I have to do those things to make tips, I am not a very good server.

    Hold your head up high, Beks. You are doing what needs to be done. I am not saying that it won’t make you cry at times. But use those tears to give you stregnth to change your life, instead of leading to defeat.

  • Reply Amphritrite |

    Beks…

    I promised myself that I wasn’t going to spend ANY TIME commenting on blog posts today, but when yours slipped through my reader, I was nearly in tears for you.

    I’ve said to myself before: that job’s beneath me. That doesn’t pay enough. That is a step back in my career.

    Last year, I got laid off not once, but twice. Those attitudes change really, really quick when you’re staring down $800 for housing and $350 for transpo in loans. By the second layoff, with my savings diminished and nearly non-existent, I was applying for anything I COULD do. Just to pay the bills.

    I got some nose-snubbing by my family. They told me I was smart. They said I was resilient. They told me that I had an education and I should be putting it to use.

    I told them right now, the only thing I really need to worry about ‘putting’ is putting food on the table. I took a job at a serious paycut. Something I could do, something that did not require my degree. But it put food on the table. It kept a roof over my head.

    Even though I hated every minute of it, it was not only a learning experience, but a humbling one. So many are dealing with the depression right now that comes with not having the job they trained for and overlook other jobs that they COULD do that would put food on their tables.

    Personally, I salute you for doing what you have to do. I’ll also remind you to spend a couple hours each day to do the resume shuffle. Something could open up – don’t be afraid to take it just because you lost your last job.

  • Reply Sandra Jensen |

    My father worked as a garbage man before finishing college on the GI bill in the 1950s. Where would we be if some people aren’t willing to hold such jobs as garbage collectors, sewage plant workers, motel maids, gas station attendents, dishwashers and shopping cart collectors? People who do the “dirty” jobs are just (more?) as important than the “suit” at a desk in an air conditioned office. I am thankful you are willing to collect my shopping cart so I can save a few steps and not have to return it to the store myself. Thanks for being out in the rain/snow/heat. God bless you for your willingness to WORK. I think some people have forgotten what that word means.

  • Reply Lisette |

    At least you have a job and are able to pay your bills. THere are a lot of people out there who can’t even find a job at all. I am sure you will find something eventually in your field, it just may take some time. Keep your head up. It will get better.

    People should be more considerate. They don’t know the circumstances of why you’re working there. People should just keep their comments to themselves. Who knows, they could lose their job next week and end up in a similar job. My sis works at Sam’s. She started up front and now works in the bakery. She makes pretty decent money now and she loves what she does. She even started her own little business on the side doing cakes for people. So, who really knows what will come out of this.

  • Reply Maggie |

    “But for the Grace of God, There go I.” It’s a shame those Gentlemen could not appreciate the fact that you are out there hustling, doing what needs to be done. Honest work is always honest work. Hang in there. Youa re doing the right thing.

    Welcome, I am going to enjoy following your story.

  • Reply sf mom |

    Everyone laughed at Susan Boyle too until she opened her mouth and sang.

    Everyone in the world needs to be respected as human beings. Period.

  • Reply Beks |

    You guys made me cry!! In a good way ; )

    Having that job was a struggle for me. I was often asked when I was going to get a ‘real’ job, but there weren’t any out there to be had. This was my REAL job until I could get something better! It paid my mortgage and I couldn’t be more thankful to the Big Box Store for hiring me.

  • Reply Debt-free Dan |

    I’m proud of you for sticking with it in spite of the ignorance. Don’t let the bozos grind you down!

  • Reply Kev |

    We do our grocery shopping at a Meijer store close to my home. There is somebody that works there with the same first and last name as me and my last name isn’t really that common. The reason I know this b/c I hear this person being paged over the intercom sometimes when I am in the store. It always grabs my attention b/c well… it’s my name. The first time it happened I was a little embarrassed by it. I remember thinking that people who know me may think it is actually me they are paging! They might think I work at a grocery store! I have two college degrees and an awesome career! I’ve done really well for myself – I don’t want people thinking that I work at freaking Meijer!

    Then I thought about how absolutely shallow that was. I’ve let my career define my self-worth. I’ve let “what I do” become “who I am” and that is more embarrassing to me than any place I could ever work. I was ashamed of myself and felt guilty for having thought something like that.

    Beks as hard as it is to hear something like that (I know – I put worked at K-Mart forever) – you just have to let it slide. That a-hole needed to say that to you – he needed belittle you so that he could feel better about himself. The reality is that he wouldn’t know what he would do if he were in your same position – it may be something far worse than wrangling shopping carts. If he were in your spot and refused needed work just b/c he felt it was beneath him then he really isn’t a man at all.

  • Reply Emmi |

    Girlfriend, your self worth is not defined by two jackasses in a parking lot. Come on, think about it, why the h*ll would they say that to someone’s face, for starters . . . because they feel like crap themselves, that’s why. They were the losers and were trying to take it out on you, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

    Doing what you have to do to make life work is all that matters to defining self-worth. Pride is not something that comes from the outside, but the inside. Watch famous people and you’ll see this is the case, what do they do? They self-destruct. Better to know who you are absent the trappings of job or clothes or jewelry or anything. They mean nothing and they get in the way of figuring out who you are.

  • Reply Mrs. Moderntightwad |

    I often think if people didn’t have such a high opinion of themselves and a low opinion of honest work, the economy wouldn’t be in this position. What you’re doing isn’t easy, but you should be proud. Doing what it takes is what gets us through these hard times. When I’m feeling belittled for choosing the path least taken or least liked, I picture myself on a Rosie the Riveter poster and think, “So what! I can do it!” And the truth is those guys probably couldn’t, and you are living their deepest fear. Congratulations on living it with the most amount of grace possible. You have our heartfelt support. 🙂

  • Reply Pushing30 |

    Beks, know that you are not alone. I am on my fifth month after losing a high paying, challenging job and now I make minimum wage slinging shoes and sporting goods. There are good days and there are horrible days. My body aches, I work with teenagers and some days I come home and cry. But I have had some wonderful customers and some horrendous ones too. As some of the others already said, we need to hold our heads high. Instead of sitting on our assess collecting pogey, we went out and got a job. Nothing wrong with that.

    Best of luck with the job search!

    Pushing30

  • Reply Anonymous Blog-Reader |

    Dear sir, your blog is becoming a continual rant. Not they kind where you actually sound like your going to do anything, just the ranting kind. In fact, you may rant about this. I’m disappointed about the way this blog has turned away from insightful and informative. In any case, thanks for the information, and good luck with life.

  • Reply Diane E. |

    Your experience caught my attention as well. There are so many smug individuals out there and that includes those who proudly proclaim they would never file for bankruptcy. It is the SAME attitude as those men who proudly proclaim they would never push carts for a living, i.e. putting food on the table and not being homeless. Living in San Diego where you said you currently live has the views of extreme materialism constantly staring at you…along with extreme materialistic human beings whose self-esteem only comes from what they can buy.

    There was a quote before, here’s another, “you can not understand another person’s life until you have walked a mile in their moccasins (or shoes)”. To all of you out there in blogland, we are all struggling with life right now, don’t presume, it’s all about NOT being homeless, pushing carts is a way to get there, and to the smug and proud, bankruptcy….think about that…

  • Reply Candy |

    I am sorry someone would say something like that. You do what you do to care for yourself and family. Better days are coming and God’s blessings. Candy

  • Reply Kev |

    @Anonymous Blog-Reader

    Don’t let the door hit ya…. The fact that you called the blogger(s) “sir” tells me that you don’t spend a lot of time here anyways.

  • Reply Kim |

    Sorry, I guess I missed in your previous posts. Were you laid off from your management job?? What happened there?? I have been reading Tricia’s blog for several years. I am looking forward to following you through your journey. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Eddie |

    Mentally flip those dudes off, and relish knowing your have more character than they can ever try to attain.

  • Reply Denise |

    Those guy’s should never say never!! To bad for them that they don’t have what it takes to truly suceed and over come. I always tell my children don’t let the situation define you….you define the situation with your attitude. You did and you most definitely are a sucess!

  • Reply melissa |

    good for you, is what i say. keep on keepin’ on!! those people were jerks. better to get any pay than none.

    melissa

  • Reply Da Big D |

    Am I with you? Where are we going?

    You know the truth hurts. For that guy he would have quit. For you, you needed it at that momement in life. Enough said. Why do you care what others think of you? You should only worry about yourself and move on.

    So what does this mean for helping your blog away your debt?

  • Reply Beks |

    Kim – The company I worked for went out of business. I was a project manager and I loved my job. Because I was in the construction field, I was unable to find a position like I had.

  • Reply Sandy |

    You know, it’s these same people who would complain that immigrants are taking all of the jobs. Those are just the jobs that some people find “beneath them”. I haven’t learned that term yet. I’ve said before and will say again that there is little I wouldn’t do (legally of course) to dig myself out of debt. We have a saying, “never look down on a man unless you’re picking him up.” It always comes to mind when people say dumb things like that.

    Head high Beks. Keep it moving.

  • Reply Mary |

    Bravo!! Way to keep your eye on what’s important and not defining yourself my small minded individuals. Nice of them to be considerate enough to take a cart back themselves. ha ha

    Just remember that the dynamic duo are probably in hawk up to their eyebrows.

  • Reply Beks |

    Thanks Sandy, Mary, and BobD! I love meeting people who understand that ‘doing whatever it takes to pay the bills’ means working crummy jobs sometimes.

  • Reply Josefina |

    I know it sucks. I work the evening shift at a grocery store tonight. And tomorrow. And the next day. I get home at 11: 45 PM, and then I have to get up early the next morning to go to university.
    But it´s honest work, and that should always be a source of pride.
    I´ll keep my head held high, if you will!

So, what do you think ?