Having A Minimum Wage Job Does Not Make You “A Loser” (I Hope)

When I graduated college in May with a degree in Creative Writing, emphasis in Poetry (yes, really) and a minor in Leadership (again, I’m totally serious), I knew that companies would not be pounding down my door, hoping to get a piece of Sam Escobar Brain Action. Sometimes it feels there are more writers than things to write about in the world, so it’s difficult to be particularly sought after the way someone who majored outstandingly in, say, finance at a prestigious school could be.

Indeed, I knew it was unlikely that I would be graduating into a world of success, fame and people clamoring to produce hardcovers filled with my ex-boyfriend anguish and drunk thoughts resulting in widespread Instagrammed photos with my quotes under them. Unfortunately, very few people achieve instant success after graduating college–which many people I knew seemed to believe they would–or even find paying jobs in their field of study.

Right now, I’m not only happily writing online about things I find interesting, I’m also working at a call center. Not like a “tech support” call center; unfortunately, I’m far too inept with most technical stuff to be able to advise others. No, it’s the second most frustrating type of call center: I’m a telecom researcher. The first, of course, is telemarketer because they’re trying to sell you something. I’m simply trying to understand why you bought something or what you think. I call during dinner, I’m sorry in advance, but we get sworn at a lot and paid minimum wage, in the event that makes any angry folks feel better.

And you know what people like to openly think? That I must’ve done something wrong or didn’t yet achieve what I have, thus why I have to work at this job.

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    • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

      Thank you for this! I work a second job at a movie theater, making minimum wage, in addition to my full-time job, to pay off some student loans and credit card debt and to afford Los Angeles. Customers can make me feel so bad, and they seem to judge so harshly, without knowing absolutely anything about me or my coworkers. But you’re right, we’re working, and there’s pride in that.

    • kj

      You poor thing! What a HORRIBLE thing to say. I worked as a Coffee Bitch (aka, at Coffee Time behind the counter) and various unpleasant hospitality jobs for a year after I graduated, and generally, people treated me like crap.

      You are just like, a lower life form – people don’t even look you in the eyes. What? I graduated with honours? I speak four languages? I have a private pilot’s license? No one cares. It’s brutal. I did brilliant things in University, and suddenly I was reduced to some sort of colossal failure at life because of this job.

      Have I mentioned that I have a degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies (with a minor in Psych) so I CLEARLY DESERVE to be treated this way, I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER and studied something like engineering, so at least I could be an un(der)employed engineer. ‘Cuz everyone knows that when engineers are unemployed, it’s the economy. Not like those idiot liberal arts brats.

      It’s hard not to take it personally. It’s hard when your friends’ parents paid for their university so now they can do fun things and travel while you sling coffee.
      …now they can live alone.

      If it’s any consolation, about 60% of my friends live with their parents anyways.

      What makes it harder is that the older generation doesn’t really get it. My parents. for example, both teachers – they are all snug and secure and represented by a union – when was the last time they had to compete with 500 other applicants for some sad, low paying position? Uuuuuuh, never.

      One thing that did make me feel better was this article by Suze Orman, Oprah’s money guru who is now, like, a bajillionaire. Apparently she worked as a waitress for 7 years (7! Years!) after graduating college. So if Suze Orman can do it, so can I. And you! Best of luck.

      • kj

        Where did the rest of my giant comment go?! Nooooooooooooooo

    • MR

      You know, you write really well. Yes, see the good in the world though. Then it becomes limitless to you.

    • Lastango

      The piece at this link says that 54% of under-25 y.o. people with bachelor degrees are unemployed or underemployed:
      What does the future look like? I’m guessing it looks like Spain, where the unemployment rate is 25% and the rate amoung 15-to-24 y.o. is 53%.
      Spain is one of the places where the have-it-all bubble shattered first. For instance, Spaniards gleefully voted for politicians who plunged the country into an alternative energy fantasy of solar panels and windmills, resulting in some of the most expensive energy in Europe. It was a complete fiasco, was stopped cold, and has been largely dismantled.
      In this era we flatter ourselves by looking back at the 1950′s and 1960′s, and scoffing at what simpletons they were. In the not-too-distant future, people may look back on us and say, “This is where their illusion of special-lives-for-everyone wrecked.” Our brains were full of glittering careers and BMWs, but soon any job, any car looked good. Dual incomes will be a prize, and we’ll pull out those fish-don’t-need-bicycles articles we high-fived about and wonder how we could have been so stupid.
      BTW, here’ a piece from the Onion that is one of the truest bits of bitter humor I’ve ever seen:

      • MR

        @Lastango: Your last link wasn’t funny. Yeah, I’ve never taken a long term position – thanks mostly to wildcard Italy/Spain – whenever there’s been a stock market bump upward over the last seven months. Any concrete European action has always been the trigger for any upward movement lately. I don’t think Spain’s conservative government will fix it. Germany is to blame for everything that has happened over the last 2 years. If they had allowed the European Union to address Greece, it never would have spilled over into Spain. In the end, Germany will pay double what they would have paid, if they had allowed Greece to be bailed out forcefully 2 years ago.

      • Lastango

        Hi there MR!

        My last link was not intended to be funny. It was intended to sting — like reality.

        The reality in Europe is that for decades politicians there have gotten themselves elected on utopian promises that their nations could not afford and that could never be fulfilled. Spain inflated an enormous real estate bubble that created the illusion of wealth. There was nothing behind it but debt. Now the mirage is shattering to pieces, and with it young peoples’ dreams of a beautiful future for everyone.
        The world is spiraling into depression, and life will be very hard — for an enormous number of people who never considered that was possible.

      • MR

        Hi Lastango. I have to disagree with you. The problem is one EU member’s internal politics, which has caused the EU not to address a debt crisis which could have been at least substantially mitigated. Germany is too rich and too arrogant. It wants a single currency free trading block in which its stronger economy will dominate, but doesn’t want to pay for the privilege. But I understand this and have invested accordingly. If you could let me know you got this, since I was so slow in responding to you. Thanks. PS. there is one guardian to prevent world from spiraling into depression, and his name is Ben Bernanke

    • http://www.facebook.com/jendziura Jennifer Dziura

      This is basically the least “entitled” article ever, so thanks for combating ridiculous stereotypes about young people.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        Thank you so much, seriously.

    • Avodah

      There is a lot more diginity in working and having gianful employment than being the person who has enough free time to make snide comments on strangers doing their jobs (let alone participate in a telephone survey, no offense).
      There are many ways to build a life for one’s self. Sometimes, it involves retail, waitressing, etc. Paying your own way and earning a living seem fare more diginified to me than letting your financial problems build and build.
      Keep up the good (hard) work, Samantha!

    • JennyWren

      I will never understand the attitude that minimum-wage makes you a loser. Maybe it’s because my parents are solidly working-class, but they always instilled in me the dignity of working, regardless of whether you’re shrieking on a stock-market floor or clearing the roadside (and I know which I’d rather be doing). Not everyone can be a broker, nor should everyone try to be. There is so much more to us than the job we do- people find fulfillment in family, in friends, in community work or in hobbies. The person who cleans your toilet could be an amazing mother or a church leader- judging people by the way they earn their living is infantile.
      I schlepped my way through two years of post-grad unemployment before returning to school, and the way people could talk to me during my waitressing gig was unbelievable- they would patronize you, abuse you, or feel free to touch your arse because you were obliged to take their orders and bring them their food in a civil matter. Many were very sympathetic because the economy was so terrible, but frankly we could make a lot of people’s lives a lot better right now by simply treating everyone with respect.

    • Lisa

      YES!!!!! A thousand times yes!!!

      I was going to write an extremely long post explaining why this article rocks in regards to my own situation, but I think I’m going to stick with my original comment.

      And this article should be handed out to every graduating senior.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.m.thompson.543 Michelle Maria Thompson

      It’s funny how I stumbled on this article when I am going through a “am I a loser? No, I’m not I should be grateful to have a job that puts food in my kids mouths,shoes on their feet and clothes on their backs” dialogue daily with myself. It’s a shame how this country looks down on some jobs but not on others.I always found it strange when someone would rather be job less than work at a job that is “beneath me”. I remember someone once saying “Imagine a week in NY without lawyers. Now imagine a week in NY without sanitation workers.”

    • Just someone out there

      Thanks for this article; it made me feel better about myself. Being in the same situation,I often feel a needle in my heart when a friend looks at me funny for working a job that doesn’t match my degree or how well I did in school with it.

    • Taylor

      Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been looked down upon and considered suicide because I wasn’t living up to how everyone envisioned how my life should be once I got my degree. I’ve been working as a temp and still living with my parents. What depresses me even more is that I’m pushing 30 and not sure which end is up.

      I am in a very similar situation, and it literally kills me every time I am reminded that someone younger than me already is working in their career and have their own car or have their own house. And here I am just working at entry level and have to deal with very rude people over the phone day in and day out and do not have enough money to save up for something better.

    • awhiteguy

      if you see a homeless guy on the street, what most people say is “eeew! look at that bum! what a loser!!!, but not all homeless people are losers (depending on the reasons for being homeless). some are homeless simply because of their house burning down, or the bad economy, and many homeless people can’t find jobs because they are homeless. Now if they are homeless because they are drug addicts, alcoholics, dropped out of highschool, and worried about nothing but partying when they were younger, then yes they are losers.

    • M

      you rule, just made me feel better about stuff :)