When my ex left, I had just graduated from law school and taken the California bar exam. After all my hard work to complete law school through the birth of my daughter and several surgeries, I wanted to sit back and relax while I awaited results from the bar exam. I was (mistakenly) under the impression that we were financially stable enough for this lapse in my income. So I scheduled my final surgery and only applied to jobs haphazardly. This began to irritate my ex. He felt I was choosing not to work and that that choice was detrimental to our household. The more time went by, the more he made his feelings known. So I started to put out applications for temporary jobs, just to bide time.
Well, my ex left before I received results from the bar exam. But on the day he left, literally one hour after he walked out of the door, I got a phone call from a department store. They had received my application and wanted to interview me for a seasonal position. I felt God shining down on me at that moment because I only had $7 to my name.
When I applied for the job, I hadn’t given it much thought. It was a last resort. But with my circumstances changing so drastically, I really needed the job. My interview was with the personal stylist at one of the department store’s really nice locations, near my home. The personal stylist was warm, chatty, and open. She asked me a few work-related questions, and then made small talk with me about my purse and law school. She told me she wanted to hire me but had to interview one other candidate. The very next day, she called to inform me that I was hired. I went to Human Resources and then to training, and a week later I started.
Now, I graduated as valedictorian of my high school senior class. I then graduated from one of the top universities in the world. I studied abroad at one of the top universities in the United Kingdom. I then graduated from law school! So let me tell you, the range of emotions I felt about working in retail was vast. I was so mortified because after all of my academic accomplishments, it felt like my only employment recourse should not have been retail. I was constantly trying to avoid any acquaintances, friends, or family that may wander into the store. I didn’t want them to look at my name tag and realize I worked there. I didn’t want them to ask the inevitable, “didn’t you just graduate law school? What are you doing working here?” I didn’t want to have to service them by ringing up their order and bagging their clothes - clothes I couldn’t even afford.
To make matters worse, because my separation was so fresh, my emotions were still pretty raw. It was a struggle to leave my home looking presentable - hair done, makeup on, and clothes ironed. I often broke down into tears at the thought of being away from my daughter so much, of the unkind texts I’d get from my ex while working a job I had to work because he left me, of the holiday cheer all around me, and of the very fact that I was punching the clock at a department store.
But you know what? Two things saved me during my employment there. First, working there was an amazing distraction. I couldn’t just cry all day, every day. I had to help customers! I was getting paid to do a job. So I was often distracted by menial tasks that kept my hands and mind busy, and from dwelling on my plight. The second and most important thing that saved me was my boss - the personal stylist. She was an angel. She is married to a lawyer, so she understood the accomplishment I had just completed, my personality, and the stress of awaiting results from the bar exam. She had also been divorced, so she understood the sorrow, co-parenting dilemmas, and finances I was facing. And she was a Christian, so she supplemented all her hugs and kleenexes and candies and funny stories with a prayer or scripture or word of wisdom. I could certainly not have done that job without her, nor get through working at that time without someone like her.
I say all that to say, we have to do what we have to do. Breakups, separation, and divorce turn your whole world upside down. And if like me, you weren’t expecting it, you aren’t prepared for it. But there is a difference between faith and foolishness, and I wanted to operate in faith. I knew that God would provide, but I had to do my part. I didn’t want my daughter to go without, so I took the first job I was offered to prevent that from happening. While it did not pay every bill, by God’s grace, all my bills were paid on time. My employment there stopped the bleeding. It allowed me to take a breath, to get my life in a space where I could start to process what had happened, and it put money in my pocket. And while at first, I was embarrassed by having to work retail, I was so very proud of myself for doing what I needed to do for myself and my daughter.
I am incredibly grateful to that department store for giving me that opportunity. I shop there whenever I can now! And I have the utmost respect for those who work in retail. It is a very kind, fun, and needed profession.