Although there's no way to know for sure - unless I were rude enough to intrude on a stranger's privacy by asking - when I notice someone around my age acting in a service role in either a fast-food restaurant or a convenience store, on occasion I wonder if the person works there out of some kind of necessity. Though I am familiar with how assumptions are often reductive (you know that bit, right? i.e., assumptions make an "ass out of u and me", etc.), that cliche is beside the point here. First off, I'm not assuming I'm right about any stranger. I've noticed something and now I'm wondering about it. Second, soon after, my wondering morphs to curiosity about what - if anything - has ever crossed your mind, given a similar circumstance?
In my case, the wondering has recently led quickly to gratitude. Because if that person behind the counter is working just to feel useful and/or engaged - something I'll never know - I'm still grateful for my life because working to get paid is no longer a necessity of any kind for me. I'm not rich, nor will I ever be. But I am able to live comfortably in the State I grew up in and still love, close to most of my immediate family. I have adequate food, clothing, and good health. My health insurance is excellent. I have a terrific network of friends, hobbies/passions that fully engage me, and I feel useful without going to work every day. And yet, my background and skills are still such that I can make a few extra dollars either teaching, playing guitar, or doing social justice work. But only if I choose to do so.
In about two months, I'll be seventy-three. This has been my life since 2010. Like all of you, my life has had its share of bumps, including a few big ones over the last twelve + years. I guess those bumps have shaped me, for better or worse. Although I don't wish the necessity of work on anyone my age, I do hope I keep noticing people in those roles. Perhaps doing so will assist me in maintaining today's state of grace about all my life has given me. If that happens, I suspect my next bump could be easier to endure.