Monday, April 8, 2013

the worker


The husband and I are out grocery shopping a few Saturdays ago in the day-before-Easter madness.  After negotiating the packed aisles of parents searching for candy and toys and dessert fixings, we find ourselves waiting in a reasonably short line.  



While I’m too far back to hear the conversation, the gal working the checkout seems chatty.  And I think great...I hate chatty.  I usually avoid chatty at all costs. But the line is short and moving fast, so we stay put. Then it’s our turn and I’m the one who has all the recyclable bags to hand to the check out gal, so of course chatty hits me up.  



But as she starts chatting, I realize her’s is a story I don’t mind hearing.  



She is fairly young....maybe early 30s.  And she is working her 6th day in a row. Checking out grocery shoppers. She normally gets to sleep in on Saturdays, but she volunteered for an extra shift because next month her daughter turns 13. And she wants some extra money so her birthday can be great.  




Her husband had to work that morning too.  He runs a fertilizer truck and with all the moisture from the recent snow, there is fertilizing work to do.  But she’s just happy he has work.  Last year was so dry he hardly worked.  Which meant a small Xmas bonus.  She prefers big Xmas bonuses...because they just make Xmas so much better.  



Her husband makes three times what she does but she’s okay with that.  She works AND takes care of the house.  Some days her husband works 15 hours and comes home and falls asleep in his chair.  But she lets him...she can’t imagine doing that much work.  



She used her income tax return to pay off some debt.  She hopes to be debt free by next year.  



Her story is tough and sad.  



But as she stands there working and telling me her story, she also tells me how she can’t wait to get off work.  Because tomorrow is Easter.  And Easter has her excited.  She’s excited for cakes and food and family.  She is happy...after 6 days of working a crap job. After a week of working and also taking care of the house and her husband.  



Ironically, I am listening to this story while standing in a town about 45 miles from one of the richest counties in America. I can’t help but stand there and think this woman is probably happier than any of those people out there in the land of Range Rovers and Prada bags who are NOT working on Saturday.  Who are probably out spending more money than they have.  Who are not worried about their debt even a little bit.  



And I can’t help but think maybe more of us should take a lesson from this woman’s playbook.



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