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.