A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a man on a social media platform regarding the low payment of Wal-Mart workers. He made the comment that if they wanted to make a living wage, they should better themselves and work somewhere else. Better themselves?
I pointed out that for many people Wal-Mart is the best place to work—especially in rural areas where jobs are limited. It’s a solid company with little risk of closing its doors. Maybe some of the jobs there don’t warrant a huge salary, but if people are willing to come to work eight hours a day, serve customers, stock shelves, and do anything else required of them, is it too much to ask they be paid a living wage by their employer? Does “bettering themselves” mean they are only successful if they climb the corporate ladder and make a lot of money? Can one be successful but not wealthy?
The fact that we view those in white collar jobs as what success looks like aggravates me. If the power goes out in a town, it takes electricians to fix the problem. If my car has issues, a mechanic figures out how to make it run smoothly. On certain days of the week, my garbage is picked up by those riding on the back of a garbage truck. The school where I substitute teach is kept clean, and lunch is served by those who would not be deemed successful by society. Hair stylists, fitness instructors, teachers, first responders…the list goes on and on. (Although, first responders and teachers should be paid the big bucks, but I digress.)
While some people may love it, I loathe sitting behind a desk in an office every day. Working a white collar job is torture for me. I thrive in an environment where I can move around, drive to different places, organize things, put things together, write what and where I want, get my hands dirty, and most definitely, help other people. Most blue collar jobs don’t pay a lot of money…especially here in Mississippi. Yet, I consider myself successful.
There are far better ways to gauge success than where we work or what our bank accounts hold. I strive to be a good wife and mother, and my husband and son know I love them immensely. As a substitute teacher, students know they can come to me if they have a problem or just swing in to get a hug to help them through their day. The small group of girls I co-lead on Wednesday nights are steadily growing in their love of Christ and in their relationship with each other. Our house is home to eight furbabies who never go hungry or lack for cuddles. I’m surrounded by friends and family who love me and care about my well-being, and vice versa. Success is much better measured by how much time, energy, and love you extend to others…not by the money lining your pockets.