By now I had worked in retail for most of my life. Only a few years dated back to when I was a practicing beautician in Germany. Still it involved working with the public even though the setting was slightly different and on a much smaller scale vs. working for a big box retail corporation.After I had moved to America, retail became my only option (I thought) and my beauticians license from Germany was not honored. To continue my career abroad, I had to obtain my American license which called for money I didn’t have just starting out. After all I was a newly arrived foreigner and I still hide behind pleading the fifth and being a foreigner in a joking manner, when it comes to not knowing any better or making a mistake. Still I found it strange, given that the three year program in Germany was more extensive, detailed, and in depth compared to the much faster process over here. But in the end the fact remained that my license meant diddly squat. I had to be flexible and life was throwing one of its famous curveballs in my path. It came to pass that retail would be the obvious and perhaps the simplest choice for me. It didn’t require additional education and anybody could get their foot into the door of america’s working class.
There was no plan B and I needed an income like yesterday, like so many of us. My journey began and I took “a job” to survive, doing what I had to do to make ends meet. I was wondering how many of us were making this decision on a daily basis! It was clear that retail would have not been my obvious choice, but then what was? Did I have a dream job? Was being a beautician my dream job? Contemplating the question, the answer to it never came and I didn’t know. I had never so much entertained the subject and now I felt unsure of our capabilities to make this huge decision during our school term. Or was it just me struggling with it?
Many years had passed since then and I was recalling those early times as if I was having another out of body experience. Hovering over myself, the details of my life emerged on a faint silver screen in black and white, baring no sound. The blurred images of myself appeared in random order and flashed just long enough to allow a glimpse of highlights and past events.
Retail was a tough order to follow and I had committed to it for the past 25+ years. I had come to know people who really enjoyed this environment but I also knew people that experienced a different side. People that got a pretty good chewing, only to be spit out afterwards. I identified myself as being a little bit of both and I had seen the up’s and down’s of it. After all I was born on the day of up’s and down’s, so was my life to entail anything else but that? I was getting accustomed to the roller coaster ride, I just hadn’t figured out yet if I actually liked roller coasters.
Retail demands many personal sacrifices and never dwelled on it until now. All of a sudden I didn’t want to miss anymore holidays with family, friends and loved ones. Taking time off during the holidays was impossible and those times were usually blacked out, meaning that no vacation was granted. It was up to me to make everybody’s holiday season bright, special and filled with cheer even though it often felt as if the stressed in a rush public never appreciated the sacrifice I was making. I was merely a servant to a means and that was it. My elf inner spirit was left worn and the bright cheery sparkle was beginning to fade as the holidays progressed. Still I made the sacrifice and worked hard to become a valuable and dependable worker. I enjoyed helping others and I was going to be the best I could be at this not so chosen, not my dream kind of job that I was trusted with. I was to serve the public, but even more to be a mentor for those aspiring to move up in business. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to make a difference and to be a vital part of making a few dreams come true.
I had been successful no doubt, especially giving the consideration of this being not my native country and that I barely spoke the language. I worked through the ranks and landed in management. My goal was to perfect my craft and to prepare me for what was next and the running of my own store for a well known organization.
My foot was in the door and the sacrifice was forging the path of my life….
My painting that speaks to the inprisonment of the all mighty dollar. The dark side and the things we have to do to survive, which often leaves us feeling incomplete and merely existing vs. being alive.