Why I love my lowest paying job

Celebrating Labor Day last weekend included a lot of social media posts about jobs – the best, the worst, and the most interesting.  For my parents’ generation (they were both born in the 1920s), jobs were a necessary evil to afford a desired lifestyle, you were rewarded for hard work, and maybe only had one job for your entire full-time career. And actually liking the work you were doing wasn’t always a top prerequisite.

My parents were a little more evolved than that, transitioned their careers early and late (and yes, my mother worked her entire life), and found fulfillment owning their own small business for about 30 years at the peak of their working lives. They modeled for me the importance of being passionate about how you were choosing to spend your time both personally and professionally.

I can’t say that always worked out for me, but holding it as a vision shaped the decisions I made for my career – the choices of accepting job offers and walking away (or finding a bright side in being asked to leave lol) from situations that weren’t providing fulfillment.

So my best job…Vice President of my local United Way – great boss, great co-workers, meaningful work and I was successful!

Most fun job (and unfortunately only realized that after the fact) was selling ad space for a daily newspaper in my 20s. Met both my late husband and current boyfriend at that job! Also had a lot of flexibility being “out on the road’ all day. I remember one of the account execs saying that it was “the best part-time, full-time job” he ever had.

Worst job was one in which I had a 2-hour commute (one way most days!) in NYC metro traffic and the boss from hell – I was fired a month after cancer surgery! 

One of my favorite jobs may be my current job as a fit specialist/retail sales associate at Fleet Feet Chicago. It’s the lowest paying job I’ve had since college, but sometimes I actually forget that they are paying me to talk about running all day! Talk about a job that one is passionate about! 

During every shift I am reminded of everything that is wonderful about our sport – diverse, inclusionary, challenging, rewarding, energizing, exhilarating… 

We get runners of every shape and size, race, nationality, sexual orientation, age-group, experience level and speed. During our “interview” when we are looking to determine the best pair shoes for the customer’s feet and current training, we learn a lot about them, why they’re running and their goals.

Some people don’t run much at all but understand the importance of doing it in the correct pair of shoes so they finally came in to be properly fit. Some are returning after an injury and have particular considerations. Some are first time marathoners with a plethora of reasons why they have decided to take on the distance. Others are experienced runners and racers who want the latest version of the shoes that have been working for them for years.

I’ve always been a people-person and this job gives me the opportunity to talk to those who share my passion. I listen in awe of all the stories that got them to that point, whether fast and experienced, or slow and determined, newbie, or one of the million levels in between. 

So while I take on various projects to further my career and look for a full-time position here in Chicago, I hold on to hours at Fleet Feet because it makes be feel alive, and reminds me that running is more than the weekend long-runs and my own training and my own running friends. Running is so much bigger than me. It’s an international community. Running does change everything.

Oh and the oddest job I ever had? My senior year of high school I was the Easter Bunny at Paramus Park Mall. 😂🐰

NOTE: Fleet Feet Chicago is hiring at all of our store. Visit the website “Careers” page for more information and to apply.

Nike #UnsanctionedChicago Race #3. Ping Tom Memorial Park. Chinatown, Chicago, Illinois. September 2019.

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