Dec. 4, 2017

Entitlements

When I was an eighteen year old girl, I worked with a girl, Linda. We worked in a fast food joint. During one of my off days, a friend of mine and I went to get some lunch. The cashier, Linda, took our order and leaned over to say to me very quietly, “The next time I catch you in town alone, I'm going to kick. Your. Ass.”

I turned to my friend and said, "Is she serious?" Then to Linda, I said, "Are you serious?"

Linda replied, "You’re damn right I am."

I had no idea why she was upset with me, but at that moment, I didn't care. I reached over, grabbed her by the collar of her shirt and began pulling her over the counter screaming at her. The girl was terrified. My friend kept trying to separate us as did the other cashiers.

Finally, when we were apart and as I left, I warned her, "Look for me. I'm coming for you!"

I later discovered why she was angry with me. It was because I had requested, and received, a day off from work that she, too, had asked for. Since I was getting the day off and she wasn’t, she was angry with me. Linda reasoned that it was entirely my fault and felt she deserved the day more than I did.

I've thought about that moment so many times in my life: the fear on her face, the ominous warnings we both gave, and wondered why she thought she was more entitled to the day than someone else. Truth be told, Linda was a very smart girl and quite articulate in spite of what others may have thought.

Over the years, I had run into her several times in town (alone) and some of those times, I tried to talk her into going to college, work toward some degree, anything! Instead, she lives from job-to-job as a cashier at grocery stores, fast food places and once, she was one of my staff when she worked as a CNA.

Again, I tried to convince her to go to college. She was/is such a smart girl. I didn’t think she drank and hung out in bars, I knew she didn’t smoke, and I could look at her and tell she was not a drug addict. All things considered, I felt she was worth trying to help, so I even offered to help pay for some of her schooling. We sat in the nurse’s lounge together and I talked to her about possibly becoming a nurse herself.

Linda shook her head and offered a sympathetic smile.

“Okay, no nurse then. Still, there’s a secretarial course at the college if you don’t like nursing,” I encouraged.

Linda shook her head again. “Nah. I don’t want to go back to school. Although, you can just give me the $20-30 thousand you would spend on me anyway. That would help me.”

I recalled the altercation we had at work and her reason for being angry with me to begin with. She felt entitled to that day off even though I had requested it first for a doctor’s appointment to find out if I were pregnant (I was). It still was not a good enough reason for her, though.

It was obvious to me as I sat in the nurse’s lounge talking to her that Linda had no desire to improve her circumstances even when someone offered to help. She just wanted someone to pay her way. I realized at that moment, Linda suffered from Entitlement.

Only days after that, Linda called the facility and I answered. She said, “Michelle, tell them I’m not coming back to work. I do not get paid what I’m worth. “

“What do you mean?” I asked, laughing into the phone.

“I’m saying, they don’t pay enough there to be taking care of all of those people,” she explained passionately. “I need someone to be taking care of me, not the other way around.”

Years later, my son stopped to get a drink and went through the drive-thru. Linda was our cashier (at yet another fast food place). She stuck her head out the window and said, “You still got the money?”

“Are you ready to go back to school?”

“No, but I still need that money you promised me.” She laughed and pulled her head back inside.

I just recently saw her again. She was my cashier at the grocery store. Linda did not even acknowledge me. She rung up my few items, quoted the price and accepted payment, all without making eye contact.

It makes me sad when I see her now. I know it was her decision to live job-to-job and not aspire to be anything more than this. These are her life choices, which we are all free to make for ourselves. Still, it saddens my heart when I see her and I am entitled to that.