Over the past month, many of you may recall that I left my job as a security officer in a retail establishment. Although it paid poorly and had poor benefits, the other reasons that I left were the fact that there was no future in the position, and it could potentially be dangerous. Whereas in law enforcement positions, such as working for the police, each officer is equipped with certain protections, communications to dispatch, and they have the ability to request backup should there be an inherent need for it.
To be confronted with verbal altercations that could have turned physical, I somehow avoided ever having a physical interaction with anyone. However, I have been demeaned and degraded by many different customers who tried turning the situation onto me in an attempt to take the spotlight off of themselves. I never accused anyone of stealing. Nor, did I ever make anyone feel bad. I would stand at the side door of the building for hours and hours each day, in a uniform that had a badge, a pair of handcuffs in a holder that would be on my belt, a walkie talkie, and a flashlight. I usually worked alone with the rare exception of getting to work with my overworked boss who had to wear the hat of a manager of all of the employees at some points, and my manager at others. I really like the guy. I would stay in communication with him whenever shoplifters would come into the store, knowing that if they ever had to be apprehended, I would be there even if I would put myself at risk. I also had a co-worker who patiently trained me for months, and I really miss him as well. These guys were, to me, friends, although we never spent our free time together outside of work. Things were always professional, yet we could still have an occasional laugh. But, I could no longer stay in a company that did not give back to me what I gave to it. I have two college degrees, one where I graduated Highest Honors, a few years of security experience in the hotel business (part of the responsibility of being a night auditor), and nearly twenty-five years experience with customers, mostly in retail and corporate settings. I was making less than ten dollars an hour.
With no income or a ready job available, I had made the decision to quit my job.
To get back on track, I have been applying to jobs and getting some low-wage interviews, nothing paying over twelve dollars an hour. I have been told on multiple occasions that I am the number one candidate, only to find that the jobs had been offered to someone else. Some companies see me as a job jumper. There are really valid life lessons that I’ve learned by working for a lot of different companies. It doesn’t mean that I cannot hold a job. It means that I am dedicated, always outperforming others, having perfect attendance, and oftentimes contributing to such a degree, that departments and/or companies have been changed significantly for the better. Simply put, if we don’t look out for ourselves, then nobody will. I would never be offered promotions, not even any special perks. None of these companies had unions, and if they did, there would at least be adequate healthcare, dental, vision, a 401k, paid vacation, paid education, and maybe even a pension to list just several of the possibilities. I’m not saying that in all situations a union cures the problems in a company, but I am saying that if companies were responsible as a whole, unions would not be necessary. I once had the pleasure of going on a three-day training interview with the AFL-CIO as a union organizer in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, I did not get the position, and I knew that if I had, I would be no better off financially. However, I would at least be helping others to receive basic rights, treatment, fair wages, and other things on the job. I remember seeing the hardened faces of older workers, as well as those who had far less work experience, coming together for a common purpose. As part of the training interview, we had to hold up signs regarding worker’s rights. On one hand, I was terrified to be protesting, even if it was just part of the training, as I had never done such a thing before. But, on the other hand, I was very honored to have stood up for the inalienable rights of all working people throughout the world whether they were teachers, communications workers, plumbers and pipe fitters, police, construction workers, and many others.
Just the other day, in the parking lot where I quit my job just two weeks ago, there was a felony assault against a security officer working at an adjacent building. A subject had allegedly stolen some low-value merchandise, exited the store, and proceeded to go to the car. The officer pursued the subject, was hit by the car, and dragged a few hundred feet until falling on the ground. News reports claim that the officer is okay. What if the person had not been okay? What if the person were working alone and had no back-up that day?
What if that were me? What if I didn’t come back into the building after the incident?
I do hope that the subject is arrested. However, I am not here to discuss the above with my past working situation and what could have been. I am here to discuss the fraternity within the vegan community.
As I was in the two-week period of leaving my position, and in the two-week period since leaving, I have met some vegans. I appreciated that they talked to me for support and paid for my meals at vegan cafes. You might be wondering why I’m focusing on vegans lending a hand as opposed to others. Friends have stopped talking to me because I am vegan. I have also received some offers to help me find work, supportive messages in my emails, etc. With that said, I have still not found anything. I am struggling to make a buck through online sales of various items, and the Vegan Fierce website will soon begin offering a wide array of vegan merchandise. This article is to highlight the good deeds of some of the most loving people in the world. One of the other people had taken my resume and offered some suggestions on how to improve it. When I had mentioned that this one vegan place in which we were dining had vegan pizza, the person ordered it… Even though we had ordered so much food already. The amount of money spent on food was more than I would ever pay.
I remember when I was in high school, still a vegetarian and not yet a vegan, a good friend of mine had bought us a pizza, and I was so overjoyed, I could not believe that a friend could be so good to me. No one outside of my family had ever bought me a meal prior to that. My vegan friends showed me true brotherhood that I had not seen since my fraternity days in college or when I did community service in homeless shelters, hospitals, senior homes, rehabilitation centers, etc. as many of the other helpers would help anyone that they could.
Nobody can say that vegans lack in helping other humans… Too often, the community is criticized for only caring about animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Vegans help individuals of all social justice movements, and it does not matter the species, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc.
I strongly encourage all of my vegan friends to look in the mirror, smile, and tell yourself that you love yourself, and you too can do something good for someone else. No matter how awful you might feel, there is nothing more gracious than the spirit of giving to others. I personally believe that the selfless acts of kindness shown to animals definitely does rub off on people, and I am proud to call myself a vegan.