if I wanted your opinion I would have asked for it
I work in retail, perhaps I've mentioned before. It's steady work, and since I have almost no hope of getting a better job elsewhere, I strive to do the best job I possibly can in such a high-demand, low-respect choice of career.
Whenever I meet someone new and tell them I work in retail, the inevitable response is, "I'm sorry."
There are several levels of affront to this. First, it presupposes that I don't like the work--I do, for the most part, or I wouldn't still be working there. Second, it declares that retail is a lowly job that no respectable person should have--and yet everyone who buys physical goods from a physical store requires that human assistance, if not necessarily for actually buying the items as for the actual items being in stock.
Perhaps you've read my other article on the subject, but my only remotely career-oriented passions in life are art-related, and I've tried art as career. I hate it. I could have stuck with it and gotten everything I've ever wanted to have done by my age done, but I would still be living at home with my parents, off my parents, and most certainly not in a fulfilling relationship with another independent self-respecting person. I value independence more than my art, and much more than making someone else's art.
My other remotely career-oriented passion is organization, which is a huge part of what I do at my job [I work in the backroom]. Instead of massively stressing out over having to get a piece exactly right by a deadline or never making minimum wage, I earn as of this writing about $20k/year by going to the store and putting things in their places with the only real stress being on my feet, back, and sense of wakefulness... sometimes dignity, if one of my co-workers is talking Pidgin over the intercom again. I get benefits, too, which I didn't in my time as a contracted artist.
So the problem is really in my peers and how they perceive my choices in their terms. Most of them aspire to more--that's great, particularly if they achieve more. Some of them, unemployed they might be, simply find the work beneath them or detest the people one normally meets when working retail--that's just how it works, though, and that's why I have the job and they don't. It really shouldn't be as big a deal as others seem to make it, because it's a job that needs to be filled [as opposed to most celebrity work, which is socially superfluous].
I can only suppose they consider it a waste that someone so clearly intelligent as they want to believe I am is willingly doing menial labour, but I've been over these points. The perceived "ideal" jobs are taken by people much more qualified than myself, and I would struggle at pretty much anything else. Why not do retail?
My other concern in the matter is that if trends continue as they are, we as a society will put a higher demand on menial labour but simultaneously desire more ideal jobs until no one will want to do the necessary jobs and everyone will want to do superfluous stuff. We don't need another five million people working at Pixar. We do need more factory workers to make the computers that render the movies Pixar makes, for certain, not to mention engineers to improve the design specs for said computers.
And who will be selling them?
I guarantee you that retail workers will never go out of demand. As long as people desire to buy food, clothing, and other necessities in person, they will always need someone providing that stock for them. Why not me?
It's not as though I have anything better to do.
Note: I have changed careers since writing this article for reasons I don't feel like disclosing. The sentiment still holds, however.