i've recently changed jobs. again. the new gig is with a rather large soft drink company that is not based in atlanta.
during my onboarding process, i was made to go on a ride-along with a delivery guy who calls on mostly small format type retail stores. these are mostly gas stations and convenience stores.
we started at 5 am, which meant getting up at 3:30 in order to make the 40 mile drive to the plant from which he is based.
it was not a bad day, albeit a very long one, as we finished up around 4 pm. i was tired from the work and from the 4 hours of sleep i got the night before, but it was a good tired and i felt like i helped the dude out.
the reason i'm mentioning it at all isn't because of poor fucking me. it's because every once in a while a little perspective helps.
i live in a mostly lily white community where the average home price is stupid high (i'm on the low end of my area, lest you think i'm bragging) and most citizens worry more about junior getting a starting spot on his sports team more than they worry about being able to buy bread and milk or pay for healthcare. so if i go to work, go to the gym, go to a restaurant or a bar, i see mostly people like me. it really does skew your perspective because a lot of the time i feel like my household is on the low end of average for the US. it can seem like everyone i see or know is doing better than me.
this route ride reminded me that i am instead quite fortunate. the dude i rode with is a delivery guy. from what i gathered watching him and then talking to others, he's a superb delivery guy. he was nice and didn't seem to get pissed that he had to babysit me for the day. over the course of the day, he told me his wife was a substitute teacher who was finishing her degree and wanted to be a special needs teacher. he aspired to get into sales for our company, which would be a pay increase for him and would probably be much easier from a physical standpoint. between the two of them, they couldn't make much money at all. but he was content and seemed to be in a much better place than i sometimes think i am.
i experienced that same thing tenfold when just walking inside the office of the plant before and after we went out. lots of people, all in the same financial boat, but happy and with what seemed to me to be a spirit of family, even at the ungodly hour of 5 am.
those are the good parts.
during our route, we went into some less-than-stellar neighborhoods. bars on the glass front facings and workers behind a plexiglass wall. i was reminded that the sterile, well-off bubble that i'm exposed to 90% of the time is a rarity when you expand your horizons. it shouldn't take a route ride to the ghetto to remind me of that, considering that i grew up in a household that was right at or below the poverty line. but years of not worrying about being able to pay the electric bill have made me take some things for granted, and that is shitty.
there is a greater than 0% chance that you'll read this and think that i'm bragging about not being poor. i am certainly not doing that. i'm right in the meat of the middle class curve. but knowing and seeing first hand that SO MANY people are not in that percentile gave me a refreshed view on just how fortunate i've been.
shouldn't have taken that, but it did.