Not Just a Job

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When my son was in his early twenties, he worked in the fulfillment area of Macy’s Department Store. When the large delivery trucks would arrive with shipments, countless boxes of goods were placed on conveyor belts. My son and his coworkers would unpack the boxes, mark the goods with the destination department name and send them down the line. He loved that job. “We didn’t know what was in the boxes until we opened them. It was like Christmas morning every day, Mom,” he said.

The words “living wage” have been tossed around quite a lot this year and the inability of many companies to pay employees what they perceive to be a living wage has resulted in trouble finding workers.

People must decide what a living wage is for themselves and their families. But since we spend a third of our lives at work, consideration also should be given to more than just money. If you take a job for good wages but hate the work, what good does that do – especially if you end up quitting?

When I was a young woman just starting out, I worked in the Rand McNally corporate offices in Skokie, IL for three years. I loved it there. The long, winding hallways between departments were painted from floor to ceiling with colorful maps and scenes depicting every corner of the earth. What I learned about geography on that job was invaluable.

In later years, I worked in the political science department at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. My favorite professor was an older man who was a for-real English barrister. He actually wore the long, white, curly wig every day. I learned so much about the law from this kindly gentleman.

Then, there was my job as office supervisor at the DHL Airways general offices near O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Flight benefits were one of the perks at the time. I was in London once and a coworker – Anika, from Germany – tried to talk me into flying to Cairo, Egypt to go shopping with her for a couple of days. “Thanks, but no. I gotta get home,” I told her. “Maybe next time.” (Talk about being spoiled on the job!)

This is just a small sampling of the great jobs I enjoyed over my working life. I have many wonderful memories and learned so much from each. What I cannot for the life of me remember is how much money I earned at any of them.

I’m retired now, but if I were to seek employment today, I would march myself right over to our little downtown Fenton bookstore. I love the idea of talking with patrons about books and hanging out with the resident store dog. And for me, receiving and unpacking shipments of books would definitely be, as my son says, “like Christmas morning every day.”

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