The weight of some people’s problems weigh differently on others under the same situations. Some will hear someone’s problems and say “oh, suck it up, buttercup, and deal with it”, while others feel discouraged beyond repair. Everyone deals with things differently.
So, let me back up a little. 12 years ago, I started working for the biggest drum and percussion company in the world. I was the Lead Person of it’s East Coast distribution center. I really liked that job and the people and atmosphere it brought. Being a musician myself it was the perfect fit for me. Sure, it was warehouse work, but it was drums, and we shipped them to Rock Stars and famous music stores. Knowing what I was shipping out could be the inspiration for the next Rock Star was pretty freaking cool!
I worked there for almost 9 years. And after two surgeries on my spine leaving permanent nerve damage, the doctors said “No more!”.
I was sad to leave my friends and work family. But I was eventually offered a job with my longtime friend and his wife doing everything from music creation, to photography, videography, creating games and marketing. It was all about creativity. I was in heaven… and I was getting paid for it. It was truly my dream job.
Fast forward 7 months. The wife decided to open a toy & book boutique in the heart of downtown. I hated the idea at first because the attention to what our vision was on the creative side of the business started fading. I was prompted by them to write a fun science fiction book, and I was writing like crazy, but the move from my cool, inspirational work area to the gloomy backroom of a downtown store was not inspiring. For the first two months of the store setup process, I wrote for two hours each morning and then helped with inventory and stocking shelves.
The store opened and there was no time for creativity. The store was a success and was enjoying influx of shoppers. I was promoted to Store Manager after the owners enjoyed seeing my engaging interaction with the customers and wanted me up front and around the store more than in the back. Promotional videos were made with me talking about new toys and having fun with the store employees. I had finally found something I love just as much as being creative.
I fell in love with the store. I was passionate about it and the clientele. I became a public figure in the community and knew many customers on a first name basis. Working retail isn’t something I saw myself doing at age 50, but I developed a deep passion for Small Business, and the other businesses downtown. I never not wanted to go to work. I was happy again and I had found my calling in life.
Then, in the late summer of 2019, my friend, who hired me, came in on a Monday morning before the store was to open for the day and informed me that “the store will be closing it’s doors TOMORROW”. I kind of saw it coming. Over the last few months the we started seeing less inventory coming in, less interest in store promotions, and less interest in general from the owners.
Why did a successful and popular store close after only two years? Especially going into the busiest season of all? Financial ignorance and stupidity.
Though I was sad my job was ending, I was excited about new opportunities in the same line of work. I mean, I can talk to anyone. I’m good at it. I love giving customers the experience they want while shopping. The retail world is wide open, and I want to make myself known. As soon as I turned over the Open sign to Closed on the door on the last day, I drove to a local music store who wanted to meet with me about a possible job.
I quickly learned that no other retail job, even for managers, paid anything near what I was making. But then again, I wasn’t hired to run the store, I was hired for my creativity and artistic value. After months of job hunting, I found out that the only jobs that pay anywhere near what I was making at the store… was warehousing. The same work that destroyed my body.
After 8 weeks of job hunting, the grieving process began. I applied for every grungy warehouse job I could find. 99% of them worked horrible hours, which are great for people who either don’t have families, or don’t want to spend time with them.
Currently I’m working at a warehouse working hours that doesn’t allow me to see my wife and kids as much as before. It’s a dark, ugly, depressing place. The walls are dark concrete with very small square windows near the ceiling. Though I’ve made nice with a few select people, it’s a different mentally. They’re all miserable. They’ve accepted this life within these walls and no longer dream to make themselves better. They work for the paycheck (which isn’t that great) and just survive. They have truly surrendered.
I feel stuck, now. I need the money for my family to survive. And the only other way out is to go to the same kind of job somewhere else that might pay more. And it’s a depressing realization that this is the rest of my life. My dream is over.
Again, people handle things/life differently. But at my age, you should already be well settled in a career and thinking about retirement.
So here it is, my favorite time of year, and I’m not feeling it at all. It took everything I have to even want to get the tree and decorated it. All I can think of is counting down the hours before I leave for work, and counting down the hours before I can be home again. This is a depressing place to be and has consumed every aspect of my life.
I gotta get outta of this. I can’t surrender and live like this. I cannot become what my coworkers have accepted. This is not who I am, or the life I want for myself and my family. I must escape, somehow. And soon, I hope, for my sanity.
Know of any Ma & Pa small business that needs some major pick-me-up?