By the Sweat of Their Brow, Ye Shall Know Them.


I have to apologize to the 3 readers who check out my blog when they have nothing else to do.  I have been re-introduced to the world of gainful employment, and when I get off work all I want to do is rest.

I know I can’t say much about my job, least of all the company I work for.  I chose a job where physical labor makes up 95% of the work, and paperwork the other 5%.   My salary is 50% less than what I made a year ago.   I was looking to work in a field where I knew I was making a difference, whether it be to the world, the country, the community, or one person.  So I chose to work for a company that, to put it simply, provides good used merchandise and clothing to everyone.  I was also surprised to find that this company provides education, rehabilitation, counseling, and employment to people who have no other sources to turn to, due to mental, physical, social,  or financial barriers.

What I do is oversee the workforce in my store, making sure that quotas are met and that everyone has a job to do and that they feel rewarded for doing their jobs well.  Along with that I am required to do the same jobs they do, to show them that we are all equal partners in the success of our store.  Keeping up moral is difficult, especially when you are constantly on the move, loading and unloading donated goods, sorting clothing, books, toys, housewares,  and furniture, hanging clothes and pricing housewares.  I am a natural comic,  and it’s taken a while for the employees to realize that I’m not going to yell at them, but I will shoot an occasional donated monkey sling shot at them to get their attention. I want them to know that I am one of them, and if anyone feels slighted, rejected, insulted, or treated unfairly for any other reason, I will be there to listen and help resolve the problems. I HAVE BEEN THERE.

It is hard, dirty, gruelling work.  But I am proud of the job my coworkers, and myself, have done.  What I’m not proud of is the perception of the public who think working for this company is the last recourse for us, and that everyone employed here has some legal or mental issues that prevent them from working anywhere else.  I’m also not proud of the way the public treats some of my coworkers, how donors think they can bring ( and I can’t think of a more palatable word) their garbage in to donate and ask for a receipt for their income taxes.  Sure, most of the donations are sold by our company for a low price, and most of what we can’t sell is sent on to other entities to sell or recycle.  Very little gets thrown away.  What is put into our dumpter are things that people should put into their own dumpster, like old plaster casts from broken limbs, soiled underwear, old prescriptions, and broken furniture or appliances.  Sure, we’ll accept your donations, but sorting through these types of things makes work harder for everyone.

I used to be one of those people…looking down my nose at the people working at these stores, haggling over prices (where else can you get a gently used Coach handbag for $11.99?), and basically thinking I deserved better than what they offered.  Now I know what goes into making this company a success, and it’s not selling used clothing and housewares.  It’s the teamwork of many people who aren’t afraid of physical labor, people who take pride in their work, and people who see this not as the ends, but the means.

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