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Crossroad Blues: The Hymn of Buy-Moria
Recently I wrote a post listing various options I could take in my life, as I stand at a great crossroads. One of these options is probably the "easiest" logistically. No searching, no applying, no networking, nothing. That option is to stay right where I am and accept the lot that comes with staying in retail at what I am coming to call "Buy-Moria." Those of you who have seen the TV show Chuck can recognize that title and the above flag.

But it's not just as simple as "staying put." I know that I can't. As easy as it would be to just set aside all the job searches and book publishing efforts and everything else, I'd like to examine in detail just what this option would mean and why I just can't do it.
Here is Chuck Bartowski, from the show Chuck. Sure, I'm not quite like him. I never went to a school as fancy as Stanford nor did I get into a fancy major like computer science, so my "potential" isn't as high in that regard as his was before getting kicked out. Nor do I possess anything in my brain like an Intersect that would make me a valuable asset to the US Government. For the record, I'm rather grateful for that fact. I just don't think I'd want to be stuck in that situation. But I find myself identifying with Chuck very often over the course of watching the show.

I do, however, have a BA in Creative Writing, and I'd like to think that's worth something, anything, and can help me get a better job elsewhere.For God's sake, I wrote an actual novel. It must mean I can do something other than scan merchandise for the rest of my life, right?

I make a measly hourly wage in my position at my store---and much like Chuck's position as supervisor of the Nerd Herders---it just doesn't seem to equal what is asked of me. Nor is it a "living wage" by any means. I don't have enough coming in to afford what I would need to cover if I were to live alone. It's a sad fact. A full time retail employee is just not given what they need in pay to support themselves without getting a second job of some sort. It's crazy, right? So I understand exactly where Chuck is at the start of the series. He's living with his sister and her then long-term boyfriend.

Chuck spends an awful lot of time trying to figure out what he wants all the while stuck on idle during that five year period between getting the boot from Stanford to getting the Intersect. I get that. I really do. I've found working in retail can easily create a good deal of complacency. It's so easy to just get up, go to work, rinse and repeat. So I get it. You don't even realize you're doing it until days, weeks, months, years have passed and you're still doing the same thing. And that alone can be downright depressing.

So, why not get that second job? Oh sure, if I absolutely had to do it, I would. My fear, however, is that the hole I'm in right now would only be that much deeper with a second job---probably in something just as menial. I'd be working 32-40 hours at my current job and then working 20-40 more at a second job which would leave little time for more than sleep, eating, and basic hygiene. And over time, I know it would suck my soul out and make me so despondent. How would I ever dig myself out and find something else---or publish that book I wrote? There would be almost no time or energy left to do either.

I really don't want to become this guy:

I love Morgan on Chuck. Don't get me wrong. He's loyal and stronger than he knows---but until he finds out Chuck's secret he tends to drift endlessly in the complacency of retail with little ambition (excluding that crazy period he left for Hawaii that is). It's easier to be the slacker and get paid and do very little to change the situation.You know what your day will be like, what to expect, and that your job will be there day in and day out. It's a safety net. Easy. There's no stress in terms of wondering where you'll be. But it lulls you into a false sense of security and inhibits your potential in many many ways. I just don't want to become a "lifer."

Like this guy:
He's the next evolution on the scale., He cares too much about the store. I have no problem with anyone who finds retail satisfying or what they want for a career. I envy them, actually. They know what they want, who they are, and where they want to go. But Emmitt? He is so embedded into corporate culture that he thinks it matters way more than it really does. He's a lifer and has decided that his store will be his life. I know bosses and coworkers of mine that are just like this and it scares the crap out of me. I care about doing a good job. I care about things being done right. I just don't think Buy-Moria should be my whole raision d'etre. There has to be something better. Something way more worth carrying about.

And I really don't want to be these guys:
Sad fact. I have a few co-workers who are very much like Jeffster. Oh sure, they're not as pervy or as creepy (as far as I know. I don't want to find out, by the way), but they're not that far off these two underachievers. Sure, unlike Emmitt, the store isn't their entire existence. But it is all they really have and they have absolutely no aspirations to change that. Regardless of their efforts to become music stars with their band, they know that Buy More is essentially their best gig in life and they'll never do anything better. I shudder in fear to think that my current position is it. There's no hope to do more with my life than scan things and chase the holidays through the calendar. Please. Shoot me before I sink to this level. It'd be a mercy killing.

Back to Chuck, though. He finds out, through the progression of the show, that he can do way more than his job at the Buy More. He can actually make a difference, and not simply because he has a computer embedded into his head. He is capable of great things when he puts his mind to it---and if he strives for more he can get it. I'm trying very hard to do the same with my own life as I flounder a bit in the dark. I sometimes find myself unable to see the path. So then I feel a bit like Chuck did after the CIA/NSA decided he was done for. I feel a lot like he did here:

Sure, I can't grow an impressive depression beard, but I understand his wallowing. He thinks it's over. It was either becoming the big spy he was training to become or working at the Buy More---or giving up entirely. Between these two choices, when the former failed the idea of going back to the latter felt like a crushing blow. It's a dead end. It goes absolutely no where. What hope can one have if they feel their current path is nothing more than a path to their utter despondency? It's unthinkable.

I arrived at a single conclusion in February/March. I can't become this version. I can't give up. But I can't stay where I am, either. Sure, it's stable. I know I have a job to go to come tomorrow, and I am grateful for that. However, I know that simply staying idle forever in it will lead to something like this at some point. I'd like to think I have potential. Maybe to become someone like this:

Come on. Look at her. Doesn't she just exude confidence? (Sidebar: I have an unhealthy girl-crush on Felicia Day. Deal.) Charlie Bradbury is everything I can aspire to be. She knows that she's smart and powerful and able to take necessary action when needed. She has embraced exactly who she is---be it the nerd or the computer hacker or now hunter/Woman of Letters. She proves in her few episodes that it is all about how you approach your life and how you reinvent yourself. If you can imagine it, you can make it happen. Charlie in Supernatural has faced a sad story in her most recent episode, but she also proved how capable she can be. I want to be that. i want to be her.

But the question is how. That is always the question. I have my reason for why I want to do something more than retail. I need more money. I need better career fulfillment. I need to make a real difference. I need to reach my full potential. I need to become who I'm really meant to be.

But how. How. HOW! If I only knew.

This Crossroads I stand in just doesn't yield answers easily. i do, however, know taking the retail fork here is going to lead me down a dark and sad path. I can't. It's not who I want to be. It's not the career choice for me.

So I must struggle through and learn that how. Maybe as I continue writing these entries I can learn that answer.

Far Away Eyes