What may seem to be a minute in their lives, is a lifetime in ours.
You would never guess that working at a beer distributor would really open your eyes to the world around you. I live in a city where the two main demographics are Hispanics and African American; plenty of which drive through to grab some beer on weekends. For being in the same place for 23 years, I never really worked inside the city. All my jobs were out of town. Who can go about their life not knowing what their hometown is really like? So I decided to take the job for two reasons. 1: to earn more money through college. 2: to perform a social experiment to see how my city is like from an adult standpoint. I already had the customer service and cashiering abilities. Now it is time to put them to the test in an unfamiliar environment.
I was immediately enveloped in a cultural and situational overload. I greeted native Spanish speakers as best I could. I small talked with senior citizens. I sympathized those falling on harsh times. I showed a friendly side to the alcoholics that came in multiple times a week. I criticized those that were driving with an open beer can. I've seen a quarrel from a small fender bender right in the store. A drug bust within the immediate vicinity. A doped up inpatient scrambling around the store. It was weird at first, almost condescendingly pleasing. 'Here I am, a college student that has social ties and networks far away from this place, doing them a favor by ringing out and grabbing their beer for them...all for $10 bucks an hour'. Talking with my coworkers would reveal some more insight. They could point out customers by their car or just their persona:
"Hey! Here's the guy who wrote the beverage song."
"I have never seen that person without the green beret on."
"There is a guy who says 'Debbie, debbie' when he gives you his card." (debit).
I would wonder 'How do they know these people?' (Trust me though. We have a blast cramped in a small office chatting about random topics and watching videos.)
Yet as the months pass by, and my experiences grow, I begin to remember some customers and I am quick to engage in socializing with them. I no longer judge by race or appearance alone. Some people are genuinely happy that I give them something to look forward to later . I connect with my workforce as well; mostly guys in my age group but with different economic and racial/social backgrounds. In a sense, this job gives me a break from my academic work so I can learn street smarts and the ability to operate among different types of people. I feel as if working here has been an important part of my personal and professional development.