Friday, November 16, 2012

Who AM I?!

I went to Michael's, the art store, to buy things for a couple projects. I had started these projects with good intentions.

I needed to get supplies to kick off the toy drive I help organize at my office for the kids at Peace4Kids, the group I volunteer with on Saturdays. And I was buying cake-decorating supplies for my friend's birthday cake. See? Good intentions.

The store was a zoo. By the time I was in line, I'd been there for nearly an hour. The man in front of me told the clerk he'd had a helluva time finding the pieces he needed to complete his holiday wreath. To which she replied, "A wreath? What's a wreath?"

My head went into text-speak. "SMH," I thought, while trying not to actually physically shake my head. A Michael's craft store employee who doesn't know what a wreath is. No wonder I couldn't find anything I needed. I tweeted this sentiment above while in line.

When I got to the register, I asked the young girl, probably about 20, how she was doing. With a very cheery, sincere smile she told me she was just glad to be here, working. I asked if she was being facetious, and she said, "Nope, I'm glad to have extra hours and to earn money. I'm saving up to buy a car."

Immediately I regretted this tweet. This wasn't a lazy employee who didn't care to learn about the items in a craft store. She wasn't some ignorant, clueless girl who didn't know what a wreath was.

She was a hardworking woman, just happy to have a job. She's working and earning money to buy her own car. She also was aware enough to ask what a wreath was, which takes courage and shows a desire to learn.

What kind of snob am I that I would fault some minimum-wage-earning 20-year-old for not knowing what a wreath was? She's working at Michael's. Depending on her background, income and upbringing, she may never have had a wreath. Wreaths are decorative items people buy when they're not busy worrying about food, bills and school.

Who am I to be so judgmental? Who am I to be so elitist? Who am I?

I'm someone who has been fortunate enough to get an education and keep a job. I'm someone who understands that some people are less fortunate, and generally, I care about them. I am also a professional editor who pronounced "misled" as "myzld" for years into adulthood. It doesn't mean I'm not good at what I do, just that I always have room to learn. Just like the Michael's craft store employee who didn't know what a wreath was -- she has room to learn. We all do, right?

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