Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finally, A Loss I'M Not Crying Over!

Last night was my final shift at the big box store. I have worked there eight months, yet not one person said goodbye to me or acknowledged my leaving. Pretty sad. I have always felt invisible working at the store. There are 100 employees and so many shifts. The lunch/dinner breaks are staggered so we would eat alone. We were chastised when we briefly talked to co-workers. It was not an environment conducive for forming any type of attachments. And yet despite these obstacles, there were a few people I enjoyed working with and developed a sort of limited co-worker relationship with.

The sales/money emphasis did not fit well with who I am or what I believe in. If anything, my stint working retail made me realize that I have to work as a caregiver within some type of social services environment. The inconsistent hours also wrecked havoc on all our lives. "Only" parents need as much stability and consistency in their lives as possible. Never knowing from one week to the next when I'd be working was stressful. And I hated that there was never any rhyme or reason to how they scheduled the hours. I was always put as a closer. I've only now figured out (I think) that this is because my last name is at the end of the alphabet. People up front in the alphabet worked the morning and day hours. I started to get resentful that women with no kids at home or with husbands, got to work more manageable hours than me. I have struggled leaving the boys to run wild all these Fri. and Sat. nights. I would talk to various managers about getting more hours which I desperately needed and day hours at that but it never seemed to make an impact - maybe because there were so many of them and no one ever coordinated schedule changes with the others.

Anyway, that is all in the past now. It was one of those experiences that is fleeting and not very relevant in the grand scheme of things. One of those transition/fill-in jobs we take to get by while our lives are in-flux.

I have been greatly humbled by my financial experiences and working at this store put a lot of my new perspective into focus for me. The junk everyone buys and so much of it. I seemed to see a lot of consumerism for the sake of filling up unmet needs. Buying so much crap is not the answer folks! Those of us who have faced significant losses understand this. I put so much thought into anything I buy now - is it needed, necessary; do we really like/love it; how good is the quality; will it last? It seems as though so many buying Christmas and holiday gifts were just choosing things willy-nilly to put into their carts. There is always such a frantic quality to the holiday shopping season. Does anyone truly need a snowman toilet seat cover? Okay, maybe someone does who goes all out decorating for the season and will be having a lot of company in and out of their bathroom. But how about, and this is my favorite, a gadget that you put on the end of a banana in the event you only eat half of it? What happened to using a baggie or some plastic wrap?

The Western world is overly materialistic. We are programmed to believe that if we don't have this or that we won't be happy or we're not good enough. I just remember really being struck at the moment of my husband's death with the realization that he left this world as he came in and took nothing with him but love. He left all his junk and stuff for me to deal with, including 100s of National Geographic magazines my youngest insists he still wants/needs. I really now get those stories about people who lived through the Depression and saved all their old mayo jars to reuse. Some experiences impact us forever. I do not believe I will ever again blindly shell out money as I used to before widowhood. Another pretty significant change in who I was and who I became because of my husband's death. But this change isn't negative. It is a good lesson to have learned.


  1. It takes a better person to experience the hardship and loss and heartbreak that you have, and to learn from it ... rather than let yourself become bitter.

    You are that person!


  2. It is remarkable that those of us who have experienced this profound loss express this truth - we leave this world with only the only thing that are in my thoughts.

  3. I am sure your experience in the retail world was an eye opening one. You see much bad behavior, and some good, especially at this time of the year. It is so sad that management was so awful and very non-labor. I guess it shows you how the corporate ladder of that company operates. But you are right that is one area that is not sad to leave and now you can move forward. I hope that things continue to improve for you.

  4. Thanks everyone for your kind words, thoughts, hugs and well wishes. They mean a great deal, more than I can express.

    Boo - I unfortunately think that all of us on this road are going to be learning lessons, some of them harder than others. At least this one was a little bit easier to handle!

    Suzann - Love really is the only thing that matters. This belief is reflected in your blog too. I wish the rest of the world would catch up on getting this. It shouldn't have to take loss for this lesson to be learned.

    Debra - I always kind of felt like a fly on the wall observing customers and the employees and just seeing this retail environment with a different perspective. I did learn a lot - mostly how I don't want to be and what I do want to focus on. So all in all not a totally negative experience but one that I'm not going to miss.

  5. i understand how hard it is to work retail and keep your perspective. i worked for Macy's during my divorce, first as a stocker for small appliances, then on the floor as a sales associate in handbags and accessories. to serve the women coming in and spending over $300 for a Coach bag was surreal to me. even when i was still married to the ex and had money, i never would have spent that much money at the grocery store without permission much less a purse.

    i understand your financial difficulties well having lived them for the last 7 years. my Dragon and i were hand-to-mouth every step of the way but at least my children had medical, college labs and such paid for, gas money, apartment rent, all their needs met. it was a loving sacrifice and one we never thought twice about. my children were safe and my Dragon always figured something out.

    and now as widows, we've all learned so hard lessons. not the least of which is that we can get by for a lot less.

    bless you and your family this holiday season. i hope happiness and better financial times, as well as this new love you're working for, return to you from now on and stays.

  6. wNs - I always know that your comments come from experience and I so appreciate that you are willing to share them with me. Coach bags are something I have never figured out because I do not even think they look that good! My main focus and worry right now is on meeting the needs of the boys. Just getting them through HS (I can't even imagine college yet). Your Dragon was there for you and made sacrifices for your children. He is truly a hero in my eyes. When I compare him to men like your ex or Husband #2, he just blows them out of the water! He worked with you side by side to provide stability for the kids and to assist them through college. What a blessing - what a true gift of this man's spirit. His acts will resonate forever through you and your children.

  7. The clarity that comes with great loss is one of the best gifts. You just can't sweat the small stuff anymore.

    Hopefully we won't need too many reminders to remain this insightful.

    I believe our children will be more thoughtful and resilient as adults as well. I hope that mine will value experiences over things. Experiences make memories and memories last forever.

    Keep up the good fight-