How Soon We Forget

At this writing I have been out of college for 18 months, and most of my classmates have settled into careers or jobs they hope turn into careers.  That is commendable, considering how bleak the future seemed when we were handed those diplomas.  To this, I congratulate all the people I know that found careers and I hope they never have to equate their job to pulling teeth, unless they’re a dentist.  Alas, in this world we can’t have blind optimism without something realist (read: sad) and this weekly blog is no exception.

I remember going through college and seeing people or reading people’s thoughts online in which they expressed frustrations about the stigma of retail/restaurant/grocery workers.  These people were frustrated that people would talk down to them or imply they were lesser than because they were a server or a cashier.  These people would always insist that this job they have is not their life, and that they should be respected, and that we should all be more respectful of one another.  These people were also frustrated at the low wages these jobs provided coupled with erratic schedules as well as the unwillingness to give more hours to these people, god forbid they’re listed as full-time workers.  And I agree with these people because I was one of them.  I was a garbage man, a dishwasher, and a cart pusher.  People were quick to use their preconceived notions and would size me up as a lesser.  Now I wear business casual and it freaks me out when people call me ‘sir’.  I dealt with managers who were either too unwilling or too apathetic to give me extra hours or change my schedule.  Take this and add low wages plus the lack of vehicle access, and it’s pretty easy to get caught in a bind.  The reason I am giving this background is because I still, as a fresh white-collar worker, believe these workers deserve respect.  I believe they deserve more money than they’re making now, and that goes for the college kids that need a job for their student loans to the middle aged people who needed to feed their families.  You would think the people, ‘these people’ I have referred to above, would still believe the same, right?

I have found that a lot of these people have, upon the faintest hue of white on their collars, have seemingly backed away from their liberal views of manual labor jobs and money/respect.  They complain about minimum wage hikes in big cities.  Upon the slightest mistake on a food order or grocery receipt, they’re quick to say something condescending about how they (using they in a patronizing, derogatory connotation) think they deserve $15 an hour?

What changed?  Nothing.  These people moved on to better things and that’s totally fine.  What isn’t fine is this meritocracy, American Dream mindset.  These people, with their new jobs, will probably tell you all about how they did it all on their own without anyone’s help.  They forget all the connections that enabled them to get where they are now.  How soon they forget what it was like to be screamed at by a customer for food they had no say in making or a computer error.

As of this writing, about 90% of full-time college students work part-time.  Almost half work at what would be considered full-time status.  Large corporations like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s have most of workers requiring some form of governmental assistance.  Stuff like this doesn’t end simply because you don’t experience it anymore.

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