Frost covered the ground.
Tips of naked tree branches above the silos began to unfreeze on my ride to work.
I listen to the radio. A woman tells a story about another who spent most of her life living in a trailer park. She worked at McDonalds.
“Don’t get me wrong,” the radio listener said. “There is nothing wrong with working at McDonald’s, but you are what you make of yourself.”
Before the break, the radio show hosts clarified they do not judge their listeners who work in the fast food or related industries. The female host also said, “You have the choice to become what you make of yourself in life.”
A few years ago I interviewed a McDonalds’ branch owner. Her restaurant had been rated one of the best in the country. People from all over the east coast stopped there on their way to Florida. Pristine inside and clean on the outside, the owner said her workers had a lot to be proud of.
One of those workers was honored by the industry for her achievements. She began flipping burgers, but soon received a higher education sponsored by McDonalds. While she told me – then a reporter – her sons’ friends made fun of him for being the son of a McDonald’s employee, he corrected them.
“My mom is a supervisor and makes good money.”
You cannot go far working minimum wage. Why not better yourself? Or, you are what you make of your future.
The above phrases have been repeated for years. In a time when the economy freezes opportunities and some potential employees have little opportunity to pay for extra education that might secure a job, I roll my eyes.
I hear the people rely on the government too much complaints, or those who question whether too many people who are unemployed have given up. Some others question why those who were unemployed settle for a job at a fast food restaurant.
Those people never walked in the unemployed or the blue collar workers’ shoes.
In June 2011, I took a job in a café at a bank. My co-workers all had college degrees. Nothing else was offered at the time. I was ashamed of myself. I wanted to become an educator or do some sort of professional writing in the meantime. I was not yet certified as a teacher.
A smooth-talker presented an opportunity. The person said, “I don’t know why you’re here. You could be doing bigger things.”
I left the job for what I thought was a new opportunity as a copywriter, and one year later I had no way to help my husband when we lost our home.
If you have a degree and you are working a job you thought at one time was below you, remember America was built on the backs of laborers. Remember it was built on the backs of writers with big dreams who realized they had to work to achieve their dream. It was built by auto-mechanics in a beat up garage who went on to become managers and innovators.
Maybe I am idealistic. Maybe I become frustrated when I read and realize no one speaks or writes for those workers. Perhaps I was born to write with blue ink.
Today’s scene for Friday Night Writes tells the story of Catherine Bishop. She tries to work and raise her teenage daughter – a former private school kid – after losing her job as a financial advisor, her house and her husband in a car accident. It is from my story When Tomorrow Comes.
James Bishop – her dead husband – had bought the gold, key shaped necklace for Tara’s birthday. It was the last gift he gave her. She wore the necklace every day to school, except on the day when she forgot to put on the necklace. When Catherine arrived home from the pawn shop, she found couch pillows on the floor, the jewelry tree knocked on its side and clothes – from both bedrooms – strewn across beds and chairs. Tara stared at Catherine with pink circles around her hazel eyes. That was the same expression on her face at James’ funeral. No words of comfort could glue the girl’s hope back together again.
Now Catherine borrowed the money. She would get the necklace back.
Post and Story by Rebecca T. Dickinson
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