"A person's life can be compared quite nicely to the four seasons of the year. This blog is from someone in the Winter of Life enjoying the fruits of his "Summer and Fall" and looking forward to assisting the growth and nourishment for the next generation.

My Father and Grandfather passed on their wisdom through their actions and their stories. This is probably be the most impactful way to pass on wisdom. But the written word can have an affect on lives that extends beyond the memories of a couple of generations. This blog is an attempt to reflection on my life experiences and pass these reflections to future generations of my own family as well as any others who might come across these pages.

Monday, May 31

Life Ain't Fair

Almost all parents have heard their children lament, “That’s not fair” when confronted with one of the thousands of disappointments that come their way. “Why does Jane get to stay up and I have to go to bed?” Why can’t I have a new bike like Charlie?” The disappointments don’t stop as we get older, they just change. “It’s not fair that Marshall gets a car and I don’t” “It’s not fair that Mrs. Johnson gives good grades to the band kids and not the rest of us.”

Like all of us, I have had my share of “It’s not fair” moments. Most have been trivial in retrospect. I don’t think any have been life changing. Over the last two years, however, I have been experiencing an “It’s not fair” moment that has put something in prospective for me. After retirement, I began working part time at a local department store during the Christmas season. After the season, part time became full time. Starting pay was not great, $11 per hour, but the work was easy, it didn’t need to be carried home with me and it was fun talking to customers.

To maintain this pay level, you have to maintain a certain sales per hour. Being naive as to the retail business and basely an optimistic person, this requirement was no major concern. And then the recession hit and business predictably slowed dramatically. My first review resulted in a $.50 per hour reduction. The second review, after the recession deepened, resulted in a $1.50 reduction to $9.00 an hour. Since this was totally unacceptable, I requested and was allowed to go on a straight commission basis. Since then, pay per hour has been averaging $12.50 an hour.

Now this is not written to solicit your sympathy, but to give you a feel for the situation. In the same department is a gentleman, about my age, who constantly produces sales per hour sufficient to warrant $18 per hour, and he is only part time. But, and this is the basis of the article, he works part time three evenings a week from 5:00 to 9:00 and all day Saturday and Sunday. If you are familiar with retail sales, these hours are generally the times of the most traffic, larger sales and thus a higher sales per hour.

So...., I am as good a salesman as he is, but he is so entrenched that his hours will not be changed and he will continue to earn half again as much as I do; there is nothing I can do to equal or exceed his earnings.

Now I understand why my Black brothers and sisters and White sisters have complained for years about being under a system that purports to be fair and impartial but is, in fact, not fair. Simply saying, “Life ain’t fair”, is not enough! Like my experience, equal work and effort, is not always rewarded with equal pay. In my of youth, I could not understand the protest of African-Americans, I didn’t understand the feminist movement. They were just lazy or under educated or did not have a strong work ethic or had chosen lower paying careers or any number of excuses, but surely since I was educated and worked hard and etc, I deserved my pay. With all due respect, I have to say, “Bull Hockey”.

An old saying puts it nicely, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” I’ve walked that mile and I understand now. Be very careful judging others until you really really understand why or how they got where they are. Are you really so different from that drug addict, the homeless person, the under-employed, the angry clerk, the poor? Sometimes life just is not fair.

That’s my View From the Fall.

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