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Retail jobs and hopelessness.

billwillbillwill Registered User regular
edited February 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I am currently working at AutoZone, and I hate it. It has exposed an ugly truth to me.

I have big ambitions. Change the world, blah blah blah, all that jazz. Now the future is looking a little scary. I see people trapped in their jobs at AutoZone...a married man in his forties with three kids, or the guy who is the same age as me who dropped out of college and is dedicating all his efforts to becoming parts sales manager (which is apparently a big dream to him), or even the dude in his thirties that is without a relationship, without kids, and seemingly without friends.

I really really really don't mean to knock these people, or even you, if you have chosen this path in life. I just can't understand how people can settle for so little. It really frustrates me. I want to grab them and shake them and tell them that they only have one life. As for the ones trapped there, most likely because of money problems, I just feel really bad for them. It is sad seeing older people working minimum wage level jobs. I'm sure that this wasn't the plan. I'm willing to bet that they also had great aspirations when they were my age. They're the ones that scare me most, because I can see myself in their shoes. What if I can't find a real job after college? What will happen to me? Will I be one of them?

I'm not even sure what I'm asking, or what I'm even seeking, for that matter. I guess I just need to vent.

Any advice is appreciated.

I hate you and you hate me.
billwill on

Posts

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Contentment is a funny thing. There is nothing wrong with a humble job and low income if you are happy with it. Some people find a place they enjoy the work, and even if the pay is terrible they are content because it supports them and they are happy. Some people have great aspirations that they chase for their entire lives and are happy because they are chasing them. Few people can "change the world" as you say without living very difficult and often painful lives. Still, if chasing that dream makes you happy run for it! Do it with everything you have.

    But don't presume to know what your coworkers want from life. Do what makes you happy and don't interfere with those around you on their own paths unless they ask for your help or advice.

    As for me, I could be quite happy to continue my low stress, low pay work where I genuinely help people who appreciate my help. Right now it's just a means to an end but I could spend a life working here and it would not be a wasted life. So long as you are happy, there is no such thing as a wasted life.

    Enc on
  • desperaterobotsdesperaterobots perth, ausRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    You'll probably not wind up being one of those people because you have an awareness of the consequence of inaction. However, not everyone can control their circumstances, so maybe you will.

    Welcome to the harsh reality of modern life!

    desperaterobots on
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I don't see the hopelessness in the OP. If you want to do big things, then go out and do the things you need to do to get to do big things. If you want to work at Autozone, be happy.

    Deebaser on
  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Having big ambitions is an awesome state of being. What really sucks is not having any ambitions. If you want something, then I'm sure you can figure out how to work toward it.

    NotYou on
  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Fuck Warren Ellis Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I actually went through something similar to what you're going through when something dawned on me - why does my job have to define the mark that I will/won't leave on the world?

    The answer? It doesn't.

    We have this tendency to equate success with what we do for a living when, really, it doesn't have to have anything to do with it.

    That's my two cents. Take it for what you will.

    SatanIsMyMotor on
  • desperaterobotsdesperaterobots perth, ausRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Yeah this is true.

    I work what would be defined as a shitty job - part-time night shift in a call centre - but it is facilitating my work in the arts, which is what I give a shit about and is what I derive meaning from.

    Quitting my 9-5 monday to friday job for this position was a gigantic step up. It helps that it pays more too, I guess!

    desperaterobots on
  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Some people, myself included, see their job as a means to an end, a way to do (afford) the things they enjoy. And wanting to change the world is a symptom of being young. You'll grow out of it one day and join the rest of us in mere existence.

    Sir Carcass on
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    To some people a job is just a job. It doesn't define them.

    Kyougu on
  • eternalbleternalbl Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It sounds like your hatred towards your job makes you presume that your coworkers hate the job too.

    Like Enc said, don't presume to know how your coworkers feel about their station in life.

    You could probably say I'm fairly similar to your coworkers, I've got a pretty low level/low paying job that I enjoy and to me that's all that's important. I don't need anyone's sympathy, I truly enjoy my life even though I'm not driving a Beamer to a multi million dollar estate that I call home.

    eternalbl on
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  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2010
    At 20, being somebody important seemed like the most important thing in the world to me.

    At 30, working at a fulfilling job and having a happy family seems much more important.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    If you have drive to succeed at work, and work hard, you'll most likely succeed, barring misfortune (e.g. illness, accident, family disaster).

    Let the fear drive you. Every time you want to hand in an essay late so you can play a video game, think about the drop-out guy.

    CelestialBadger on
  • eternalbleternalbl Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    If you have drive to succeed at work, and work hard, you'll most likely succeed, barring misfortune (e.g. illness, accident, family disaster).

    Let the fear drive you. Every time you want to hand in an essay late so you can play a video game, think about the drop-out guy.

    IMO, fear of failure isn't the recipe for success, rather it's the confidence to try.

    eternalbl on
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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    eternalbl wrote: »
    IMO, fear of failure isn't the recipe for success, rather it's the confidence to try.

    There is no universal recipe for success. What drives you best is the emotions that have the most power over you. You've got to learn how to harness them.

    CelestialBadger on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    eternalbl wrote: »
    IMO, fear of failure isn't the recipe for success, rather it's the confidence to try.

    There is no universal recipe for success. What drives you best is the emotions that have the most power over you. You've got to learn how to harness them.

    This is all good stuff, but you have to be very careful when harnessing fear as a motivator. Fear often sends you down paths of poor choices made irrationally in order to waylay your apprehensions. As a long term policy, I'd recommend dealing with your fear and using something else less destructive as a motivational tool. Strong emotions of any kind often lend to poor choices. Long term, solid emotions and motivators like confidence and concrete, healthy goals would be more productive and less dangerous.

    Of course, next time I get mad I'll likely forget this bit of enlightenment and, in my haste and passion, get a tattoo and a motorcycle and become the "headless horseman" of my metropolitan area. Durarara!

    Enc on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I use my self-confidence to set long term plans and my fear to combat my laziness. YMMV

    CelestialBadger on
  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    You shouldn't define other people's success by your own standards.

    MagicToaster on
  • UncleSporkyUncleSporky Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    NotYou wrote: »
    Having big ambitions is an awesome state of being. What really sucks is not having any ambitions. If you want something, then I'm sure you can figure out how to work toward it.
    It depends on what you mean by a lack of ambition. Some people might see a married-with-kids 40 year old guy who works at Autozone as having no ambition; however, perhaps it is his ambition to be able to provide for his family and live a modest, happy life. Some people call that striving for mediocrity, but if it's all you ever wanted, isn't that enough?

    UncleSporky on
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  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It's very dangerous to judge people by their work ambitions. I know a guy who's in his late 40s and works for BFI in Boston. And not some sort of plant management type job either--he slings trash. The guy obviously isn't a fan of his job, but to him it's just a job. A means to an end. He has a beautiful wife and family, and a really nice house. He does community theater, coaches sports teams, and gets involved in everything his kids do. That's his passion, that's why he works. He could give two shits about advancing at his job. Its the other areas of his life that he cares about, and he has a very rich and fulfilling life. I'm sure the random people on the train see him in his coveralls, dirty work boots, and jacket with a waste management logo on it and think he's a hug loser, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • RocketSauceRocketSauce Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I totally get what the OP is feeling, and have felt that way many times while working retail. The solution was to get out of it. I got into a field where I feel valued for my ideas and experience and ways I'm able to connect with others.

    I had just graduated college and was having trouble finding a job and eventually got a job at Target just to get me by as my bank account was down to about $100. Two weeks later I was offered a position at where I work now. It's been about 4 1/2 years, and I'm looking to move onto something better.

    There's nothing wrong with wanting to "be somebody" or "change the world". I think the difference between being naive and being ambitious is understanding the struggle and hard work it takes to get the cream of the crop jobs.

    My advice to the OP is that if retail sucks and is crushing your soul like it was to me, then get out.

    RocketSauce on
  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I just thought I'd throw this out there. There are really two kinds of career paths: you go to work because you enjoy what you do/can accomplish, or you go to work so that you can do the things you enjoy. There's nothing wrong with either choice.

    For the OP, if you know you could never be satisfied doing work that doesn't matter (so that you can do things you like in your freetime) then you have to find a field that you are interested in. If you have the mindset that you want the work you do to matter, you will end up in a job that does work that matters. Probably you wont be saving the world, but you will be able to find something that you consider worthwhile. The trick is to be realistic about how worthwhile the job needs to be. For example, maybe you can't be a senator, but you can be an aid, or work on their staff. Or maybe you are a lab tech, instead of the actual researcher who is trying to change the world. Or maybe you are the researcher and do change the world. When you start out go for the top, but don't be to hard on yourself if you aren't the 1 guy who invents a workable fusion reactor.

    The people who end up in the jobs that you see as trivial, are the ones who don't care about making a difference. They just want to make money, so that they can spend there life outside of work how they want. Personally I don't think one way is better than the other.

    Jebus314 on
    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • MetroidZoidMetroidZoid Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I just wanted to chip in that all retail jobs are not created equal.

    I've had 2 retail jobs before this, and one dishwashing job before that. The two retail jobs, one at Blockbuster and another at a small grocery, were hell. Partly being bad management and expectations (sell this much today? Double that tomorrow or lose hours), but also because of so many retail-job-cliches. Repetitiveness, lack of variety, you name it. Neither lasted longer than a year.

    Now I'm at a retail job that I've been at for 3 years in March, and have no intention or want to leave. It has it's sucky moments, but it's also helped me (A) discover what I want to do, which never happened even post-college, and (B) made me realize that there are eventual career job opportunities that can start in retail. I may be a cashier now, but I've found a place to work at where eventually, as it happens for almost all people in this company, if you stay and really want to you can move up. I'm not talking store management; what I want is to run my own nursery (or in this case, our large nursery department). And this job already has given me plenty of experience; they've sent me to seminars, paid for classes, and I'm just a cashier.

    I just wanted to point out that not all retail jobs are horrid. Sure, I could always try to gain what I want in my future by going back to school (but I can't afford it right now), getting an internship (but those aren't available in my area), etc, but this is a fine way for me to go about this.

    MetroidZoid on
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  • UmaroUmaro Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    If you think working retail is bad, just think of all of the people who dream of a retail job but can't even get that. They're not 'settling' for little, they're doing what they have to get by, and that they're doing even that speaks highly of them, no matter how obnoxious they might be to you on a personal level. If you're not happy with where you are then do something about it. If you won't do anything about it, then you're right where you belong.

    Umaro on
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  • SaddlerSaddler Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Two things:


    1. It's good that you want to do great things with your life (whatever that may mean to you), and it's likely at least somewhat viable, so don't let anybody tell you otherwise. The best thing you can do to avoid getting stuck in retail is get some experience doing something else. Do something closer to what you want to change in the world, or ultimately do for a living.


    2. It's not always useful to move up the ranks at a given job. In a retail environment, low level management can be a nightmare; much more work than hourly folks, more headaches, and not necessarily a lot more money. Personally, I've moved up the ladder in both retail and office environments, and regretted it greatly. Both times I traded easy, fun work (and I even had a union) for grueling responsibility. I've regretted promotions at least as often as I've been glad for them.

    Saddler on
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