Yesterday, I bought a (pink [don't tell anyone]) Zune from a lady on craigslist. I developed serious Zune envy after I bought one for my boyfriend for Christmas. The seller asked to meet me at Wal-Mart in Livonia; a place that has been given new life by the Super Center. At one time, the land where the store now sits was Wonderland, my favorite mall. My mom worked at a Target connected to the mall and would take a portion of her weekly paycheck to treat us to a movie and a meal of our choosing from the food court.
On the way to the meeting place, I passed by Chi Chi's, my summer job after my second year in Huntsville. It was kitchen work as usual. When I came home, I immediately sought out my first boss from Pizza Hut for a job. She said that she'd hire me but knew a place that was closer that could pay me up to $3 more an hour.
I started about a week later as the appetizer line cook on the afternoon shift. What I loved most about the job was its proximity to my other job as a midnight stock-person at Meijer. I would work at Chi Chi's 3-11 then walk across the freeway to Meijer and work from 11-7:30.
Even back then; I loved cooking even if I wasn't preparing my own recipes. Chi Chi's was a lot of fun, the guys in the kitchen embraced me as part of the crew even though I was new and, the only girl. Meijer on the other hand, was a different story. I kept to myself, reading my novels in the smoking room on my breaks and trying my best to complete the lofty list of tasks that my manager gave me nightly. It wasn't until I ran into her one morning toward the end of my shift when she saw me sweaty and out of breath, working on a vacuum planogram that she told me that the lists that she gave to me were for me to work on over the course of a few days, not every night. She was impressed with my work ethic though, she told me, but it wasn't worth me killing myself for.
With this reprieve, I was able to slow down a bit and actually take an entire 30 minute lunch break and two 15 minute breaks. It was during those times that I got some good people watching in over the top of my Left Behind books. To those who would venture into a conversation with me; I let it be known that this job was just a summer gig; a means to an end. I was a student at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville and I was working the two jobs in order to save for a car and a place of my own there. I wasn't like them; I had a future.
Driving past the now defunct restaurant then the still booming Meijer; I was awestruck to realize that it's been nearly 10 YEARS since that summer. Back when I was so optimistic about my future and what lay ahead. I knew precisely what I wanted for myself; a career in Broadcast Journalism; probably radio, and all of the success that comes along with it. I know that there are still a lot of people who still work there that I worked with. They haven't been promoted and are still living their lives in the exact same way that they were 10 years ago except their kids are older and their paychecks are slightly bigger.
As I drove by, I wondered if I was any different from them. I'd like to think that I am but I'm really not. I'm not the person I said I would become when I was there. In my 30th year; I'm much more reluctant to place blame anywhere other than on my own shoulders. I can only control myself, as such, I have to think about my own culpability in all situations. I'm making strides now to live the life that the 20 year old me fully expected that we'd be living already. That's the best I can do; time waits for nothing, I can't go backwards so I'll just do better moving forward.