Some of the best advice I have ever received came from a disgruntled department manager at a big-box corporation. The advice was: “if you don’t like it quit”. Recently, I have realized the value of this statement, and that it relates to an entirely more important concept; that concept being: if you don’t like something, change it (or shut-up and quit).
For four years of my life, I invested time into something I did not believe in. Something that did very little for me, save for allot small portions of currency into a precarious bank account. I drank and occupied my time with being lazy. I thought there was no way out of this situation. I went to work working hours I didn’t want, days I didn’t agree with, for a corporation that did nothing but create a profit for themselves, while dwindling the payments of their employees ( I use “employees” loosely, as they did; pawns), and while enacting an increasing external cost (waste, pollution, etc.) on the environment. Naturally I disliked this job.
I felt trapped, as many do. I would come in early day and late night; evenings and weekends, to place product, pour chemicals, and mostly cashier- I sold people things they didn’t need, enrolled customers in shady “big savings” programs, and promoted a lifestyle for families trying to fill their pantries that was below average. My job was never my job; I was a prisoner, a prostitute. I was never in the right mindset to realize what I was doing. Most people around me would tell me to stay focused, you could get fired, LP is watching. They would say things like if you quit this job you can never come back, and most people that quit this job will try to come back– it’s a UNION!
[Ironically I should have taken this as advice rather than a warning, which exuded fear. I should have torn off my stupid fucking apron and walked through the automatic glass doors naught to return for years, for a single purchase out of need. I should have quit and not come back.]
They’d been doing this their whole lives, no risk, no danger, no reason to change. The people that told me “no” had made a career of telling people “no” because they had been told “no” by others, and never made anything of it; (I can’t, I won’t- I did, and I didn’t fucking die, I say.). The reason being for the “no” people is easy- rather, simple. It was easy to say “no” (in the sense that it gave no occasion to over-come, or to persevere), it created a mass of melancholy employees; one does not feel alone in their troubles when around others in similar troubles. I don’t conceive disparagingly of the people who stick this out for necessity, I find it gives a sort of pride, but leaves a person naked and in the lurch. What happens if all those “no” people get shit on and the company folds, who cares about them?
If the corporation ends what then of the employees, I thought. If I need time for education to better myself how will that turn out, will this entity bend to my whims as I have bent to theirs?
For a test I decided to give up. I took breaks at the most inopportune times for management, I found loopholes in taking longer breaks (in general), and I stood up for myself when they called me to the front to do other people’s work (inevitably the front-end staff would not have enough employers due to drastic hour cuts from top management; Chairman Bob). Essentially, this big-box outfit would run on every department but the one it was supposed to be running on. It would be similar to patching a blanket with the blanket you are patching the blanket with: itself; the seamstress would be creating another hole, in hopes of patching another hole.
One day, it was a Super-Bowl Sunday of sorts- I had been working from 10 am to 6pm, the prime hours for Sunday business at a grocery. I saved my breaks for the last hour of my shift. We would get two fifteen minute breaks; which I extended to twenty minutes each, due to close reading of the union handbook (I emphasize: CLOSE READING). I was just about to punch back in and punch back out for my second break when an irate manager came up to me, he told me to get my ass up front, they needed me there. What was I doing, said his hands hanging in the air, spread wide. He asked me if I heard the calls over the intercom: “Terry service 90, Terry service 90, we need you up front”. I told him I had, but I was in the back relaxing and eating food on my break- it was great. I told him he could do the work just as well as I could. He should try it- he wasn’t on his break relaxing. That’s when the he lost it. His eyes squinted in disbelief, taller than me he stood, grey beard, old, heart-attack serious. Fuck, this was a moment. I waited for his reaction. Then he said it: “if you don’t like it quit.”
After some efforts and trying, I eventually quit. He really changed my mind. At first it was hard, it seemed impossible as everyone had told me. I was insecure, scared, and generally tied down by my fears. Would I be able to make rent, find another job, pay my bills?!?!?! These fears were that of the unknown, what these other people who worked in this huge corporation had told me. Oddly, the same people who complained about their mistreatment by this corporation were the ones defending it, keeping it alive in a way. I thought to myself why? I wondered if they thought it was worse to do something they hated just so they could exist, rather than to quit and look for something better elsewhere, a new life. I imagine if I were looking for apples and I couldn’t find them under one specific tree I would starve to death with that kind of ideology.
I am sure some people love working where they work. I am certain some people believe they have no other option, or they have it made, or they have to do it to do it. Yet, I wonder if they look at the bigger picture.
What I learned from quitting this job has helped me shape my life. When someone tells me I can’t do something, or it is impossible, or it is scary, I want to do it more. What do people who don’t have to face fear know about fear? Moreover, I won’t ask an artist how to perform open-heart surgery, because what do they know about it?
Walter White said it best: “What I came to realize is that fear, that’s the worst of it. That’s the
real enemy. So, get up, get out in the real world and you kick that bastard as hard you can right in the teeth.”
My tooth fell out in April of 2013, while eating buffalo chicken pretzels I bought on a whim, I took a risk. I realized the only way I could get dental insurance now (being 25, close to 26) was to either a.) Acquire a real job, or b.) Go back to school.
At the time I was working in the back of a kitchen in NE Minneapolis getting yelled at while generally getting paid in peanuts, oh, and there was not advancement. I barely made rent, what was left I scrounged food. I told them to move me up. They told me I could find the door. Essentially I wanted more. I took the risk, dropped the $80 University application fee, called various numbers, and was later accepted. Had I thought: I can’t do this I don’t know where I will be, the last year of my life would have never happened. The education and advancement I have learned at the U I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The week after I got into the U I was offered a job at the U. A week later my new job gave me the keys, and I immediately quit the kitchen; they were surprised. It was their way of keeping people down. It was an easy way to walk out.
If you don’t like your job, quit your job. If you enjoy your job, keep your job. Never fear something because others tell you to fear it. Make your own observations, because most of what you “know” is one person’s observation, from a unique and varied perspective. Be scientific; observe. Be logical, without money you won’t die. If you are surrounded by people telling you “no”, “you can’t”, “you won’t”, “you shouldn’t”, let them take their own advice. See how far they go. Get out and challenge yourself, take risks. Otherwise what do you do?