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GOLD! Ever wonder how people end up in dead end jobs at 40?

Gary

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@MJ DeMarco , glad you bumped this. I had missed it.

@Vigilante , this story you've told was the tale I wanted to avoid at all costs.

I was an engineer for a major defense contractor in the 90s while in my early to mid 20s. So-so salary, a pension that was re-made into a 401(k), and boredom oozing from every orifice of my body. My biggest fear was that I would be 40 and still bored, still trapped, still marching in step with the propaganda I had been told I should do with my life: go to school, get a degree, work for a good company.

During my 5-year run working for the defense contractor I had been doing improv comedy and taking acting lessons at night. This was my side hustle that paid very little. Yet, lo and behold, I got cast as the lead in an independent film.

So I quit my job. I didn't have a grand plan, even a business plan. I couldn't see beyond 3 months of what I was really going to do. But the allure of freedom was too great. I was just another number is sea of gray cubicles and I needed out.

Your story brought back the angst I had while working that job, the glacier speed of time over 14 days once I gave my 2-weeks notice, and the sense of adventure that I seized once I was free.

Am I truly free? Hell no. But I enjoy working towards that goal and I determine exactly what I'm going to do everyday. And for that, I am grateful that a young me had the stones to break away from a scripted life.

Your final take that we should all do more to help the folks seeking their way definitely resonates with me. Thank you for the reminder.
 

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MJ DeMarco

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Am I truly free? Hell no. But I enjoy working towards that goal and I determine exactly what I'm going to do everyday. And for that, I am grateful that a young me had the stones to break away from a scripted life.
Sometimes we don't know it, but having the freedom to pursue your freedom is the freedom. (Damn, that sounds like a meme.) Likewise, pursung the dream, is the dream.
 

Talisman

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Yup glad for the bump, hadn't read it before, thanks Vig.

It's what keeps me up late at nights and pushing through in the time I have, to drive things harder. I'm not making peanuts for my time, but it doesn't really matter - it's just a matter of time (haha) before something goes badly, and my dependency on selling my time for money will put the lifestyle we've borrowed at risk.

I hate the lack of control, living with Damocles' Sword, as all us slowlaners do.
 

NickNack

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Sometimes we don't know it, but having the freedom to pursue your freedom is the freedom. (Damn, that sounds like a meme.) Likewise, pursung the dream, is the dream.
I like that.

I am 41, and unfortunately not financially self sustaining. But I've been running my own business since 2010, and even THAT small freedom is incredibly powerful compared to punching a clock.
 

Ryan S

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Thanks for bumping this, I had missed this thread and it's a kick in the pants. I am currently "winning" at the slowlane and it doesn't really feel like winning at all. I started my Fastlane journey after I already had the wife and kids so it's tough to make time and harder to go cold turkey on my cushy j.o.b. I could hear MJ in my head last week as we got news the company may be discontinuing our cash cow product - all engineering stopped. Still have the job, but now there is this uncertainty in the air that I have never experienced. I have a Fastlane product that has some modest sales and good reviews, but I've never really tried to "sell".

Being the MVP on a losing team is still losing; being the 6th man on a winning team is still winning. Time to switch teams.

~ 5AM Fastlaner
 
OP
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Vigilante

Vigilante

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Being the MVP on a losing team is still losing; being the 6th man on a winning team is still winning. Time to switch teams.

~ 5AM Fastlaner
Rep+
 

EsJay

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OP really touched me and thank you for taking time to post this story and your thoughts.

I see myself there probably in slightly better position and better job, paying better $$$. But fundamentals still remain same. Based on my own experience I do believe many people do understand that they are stuck on treadmill and keep dreaming but find themselves helpless. They keep dreaming about that day when they will be set free, but very few keep searching a way out and go through the grind to escape.
 

LRival87

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Life happens to those who aren't making it happen.

Jesus... I feel for that guy. Back to the grind!




This is a long, rambling story I wanted to share with you after I was troubled by something I saw the other night. It's almost written as a short story. If you don't like a little introspection, or are reading for a business plan, skip this thread. Someone out there needed to hear this message, and I hope it gets in the hands of the people that needed to read this. Many of us might see ourselves through the eyes of the main character below. - Vigilante

I stopped in with my kid a few nights ago to a local sub sandwich shop, and the sad story written there is etched in my mind. In a combination of thankfulness and helpfulness, I pour out the story here like retelling of a dream. Only, this wasn’t a dream, but a glimpse into the desperate eyes of thousands of people across the United States. The forgotten ones, the failures of capitalism. The working class.

You can find my perception judgmental, until you realize that the story also marks the beginning of my story. I was this guy. Dropping out of school, I was working in retail. Young and not wise enough to realize the deck was stacked against me, I bucked the odds. Through a combination of tenacity and reinvention, I broke the mold. However, I can give you a glimpse into the life I saw a few nights ago, and give you eyes to see through the hands and into the heart and mind of the clerk, the salesperson, the forgotten ones.

I pulled into the sandwich shop, needing to get my kid a sandwich. Having spent the afternoon at an amusement park and her private swimming lessons, if I brought her fuel tank back on “empty” I would be answering to her mother. A ham and cheese better than nothing, we pulled my paid-for vehicle into the lot and went into the store. We ordered some food, and settled into a booth that she would spend the next fifteen minutes using as a jungle gym. She’s the kid that you hate sitting at the table next to.

It was then that I saw him, the 21 year old mirror image of me. Only, he was probably 48. Dressed in a cheap suit and tie, name tag slung around his neck like a noose, he was on a 29 minute escape from his evening shift at the mens clothing store a few doors down the mall. His suit was a little rumpled, which was probably OK as a quick scan of the parking lot indicated there probably were no customers to notice that night anyway. His eyes showed that he was a million miles away.

He was on about minute 10 of his 29 minute escape, an unpaid half hour that extended his required scheduled time by the same 29 minutes. You get a half hour break plus two fifteen minute breaks for every eight hours you work in the United States. A half hour isn’t really enough time to do anything, and most nights the time is spent sitting in the break room, watching the clock and wishing you were anywhere else. It's just enough time for you to settle in to your resentment of your job, and then the bell rings or the whistle blows and you are right back where you started from.

This wasn’t his first job, and likely wouldn’t be his last. A series of choices and setbacks had led him to this sandwich shop that night. He turned it over in his head, over and over and over again. When he left the clothing shop for his "break" his 24 year old boss told him to make sure he was back on time this time. As if there were another time that he hadn’t been. f*cker.

He looked at the clock on his 4th generation iPhone, and with 19 minutes left, his mind slipped away into another mindless game of Tetris. He set his personal high score last week, in what was probably his millionth game. High score. The occasion passed with nothing more than a quick flash on the screen, and then he was back folding shirts again.

His dinner that night cost him more than he made for the last hour. He had a base pay of $12 plus commission, but with no customers in the shop, there was no commission. Add to that he was required to take a half hour unpaid, and his sandwich cost him more than he made after taxes for nearly two hours.

The Tetris helped him forget. It helped him forget that his son's tuition was due tomorrow. He felt dead. He felt trapped. When he allowed himself to think about it, he couldn’t breathe. His ability to pretend it wasn’t happening ended when the credit card was declined, and then they started calling. Not sure what he was supposed to tell them. He put their number on ignore, but knew that was only going to make it all worse.

He looked at the clock as he drifted away into another game. 9 minutes left.

They told him tonight they were cutting his hours back to one hour less than full time. He’d have even less. He didn’t have anything to say. Where else would he go? When he took this job, he told himself it was just temporary. But last week turned into yesterday, which turned into today. And now he had to go home, and tell his wife he just got a pay cut.

6 minutes.

It was easier to just not think about it. Three more hours of standing around a store with no customers. It made no sense to him. He got mad. He thought about the fact that his time was worth so little to them that they would just have him stand around, folding shirts and paying him less than a sandwich. Last month, they changed the commission plan so that even the sales he did were subtracted from his “salary” before he got any commission. Tonight, though, that wouldn’t matter.

4 minutes.

He would almost rather be there than at home.

3 minutes. He slumped down in his chair. He didn’t want to be there. The sandwich made him sick, as the stress turned into a knot in his stomach. He started another game, and then realized he had to get back. Back to what? Back to nothing. Back to his time clock. He had to rush back to be on time to stand around.

He crumpled up his salary in the form of a sandwich wrapper, and headed towards the door. Making a left, he was the only one headed to the clothing store from the parking lot. He’d watch the clock roll towards 9PM, knowing his wife was likely to be asleep when he got home.

And tomorrow, it would start all over again.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


This forum gets dozens of thousands of hits per week. Many of them are people just like this guy, looking for something that can help them. Something that can encourage them. Something that can teach them. Maybe… maybe that guy is you.

These people are all around us. Capitalism requires it. There are more of them than there are of us. Most of them will never break out. Most of them will never find a way. Some won’t do it because they can’t, some won’t do it because they won’t. Some won’t do it because they think it is game over.

The guy in the sandwich shop reminded me of me. I was him. I fought like hell and found a way, but absent that I once wore his suit. Many of us did.

It’s not enough for you to take everything from this forum and use it for your own gain. It’s not enough for you to read the Millionaire Fast Lane, the Four Hour Work Week, start your business, and live happily ever after. Your life will still be devoid of meaning until you figure out how to reach people with scale and bring them with you.

Look deeply into the eyes of the clothing store clerk in the sandwich shop. At a minimum, lets realize that he deserves compassion. He may never make it. He may never find it. He may always live from day to day eating those shitty sandwiches. Showing you shirts. Folding shirts. And you and I? We look past him. We wonder why he's such an a**hole at the clothing store.

KAK left the forum. He then came back to reach more people in scale. MJ DeMarco could have just walked away, and never written the Millionaire Fast Lane.

I taught some classes last fall. Most of the people sitting in the class were in various stages of being that guy in the sandwich shop. I haven’t reached enough of them yet. We’re not all called to be teachers. Some can give back through philanthropy. Some can give back through teaching. Others through works or other ways of effecting people, either individually or in scale.

Not sure why I spent the time telling you all this, other than the realization that had my life taken some different turns, I could have been that guy in the sandwich shop. That guy is here. Reading this post. Rather than step around them when they find us, maybe we should do a better job here at the forum of helping them find a way.

What will your legacy look like?
 

Andy Black

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^^^ This is what it's all about for me.



I've not detached my income from my time yet, but I at least don't have to report to anyone.


This Wednesday I was able to drop one of my little lads off to a class before school and go for a little walk before picking him up and taking him up to school.

I took the picture below at 09:20am, on a Wednesday morning, when everyone has settled into their cubicle.

I didn't ask for permission to walk around that lake.



If I have to take a job to keep the wolf from the door, I will.

If I have to flip burgers to stay in the game, I will.

But I'll miss taking my little lads to school.

And I'll miss crisp October mornings like these.


Thanks for the shot in the arm @Vigilante.



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A Crisp October Morning In Ireland

I sat on that bench on the far right for 10 minutes just taking it all in and being grateful I was able to be there, at that time.

So that was October 2015? Nearly 3 years ago. Wow... time flies.

I still get to spend a lot of time with my kids.

It's the summer holidays and they've been off school for about 7 weeks. They've about a week left before they're back in school.

I've been minding them during the day - mostly having fun, partly pulling my hair out (parents will relate). It's tiring because I work in the evening when everyone goes to bed, sometimes (often?) till 1am.

No complaints though. I see cars coming into the estate at 5:30 pm when I'm out playing hurling with the lads on the green. One of my neighbours was out pushing one of his toddlers round the green on his little tricycle. The guy was wearing his shirt and tie and it suddenly dawned on me that he'd just got home and this was the first thing he wanted to do when he got in the door - spend time with his kids before they go to bed.

He came past and we chatted. He said it must have been a great day today (we've had a great summer of sunny days here in Ireland). He then asked "What do you do Andy?". Ah, I suddenly realised all those parents keep coming in every evening after fighting their way through traffic and see me playing with the kids all the time.

I gave him the high-level view and offered to have a chat about it over coffee sometime. I hope he takes me up on it.
 

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Dami-B

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Conversely, the message of the Millionaire Fast Lane is rather than doing what you love "and you will never work a day in your life" (which is complete bullshit)... add value to people's lives in exchange for money. Then scale.

Then, down the road, you will be free to do what you love.

I taught a class at some local Universities last Fall. Had a blast. Earned nothing more than validated parking. Didn't care.

I volunteer for the Red Cross. Love it. Spend money to do it. Don't care.

Don't do what you love. Change the world, and THEN you will have plenty of time to pursue your muses.
Wow this is such sound advise.

It reminds me of something my mom says.

"Passion works best at old age"
 

Rick Phillips

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This is a brilliant thread. Thank you to the author @Vigilante and those that have kept it alive so that I could stumble across it today.

It is my opinion that the majority of people in dead end jobs do not see their own reality or self worth. In their world they are doing the right thing by the script, they are doing what they were taught to do. They pay their bills, they pay tax, they put money in a crappy pension and they cling to the property ladder with a 90%+ mortgage. They are alive but maybe not living.

Every company that I have ever worked for would have happily kept me there until I died or retired and each company had plenty of people on their books that fit the MO of the shirt guy in the original story.

Each of my past employers paid me just enough to prevent me from going elsewhere and I served their purpose, I did a good job..... The timing was coincidence but each time that I received a promotion in a particular job I would quit shortly afterwards. My manager would always be baffled when I handed in my resignation. I would quit because I have always held an entrepreneurial mindset and these employers were serving my purpose more than I was serving theirs. Once my goals had been achieved then it was time to go! I would call this the golden rule when it comes to the world of employment and I wish that I had held this belief consistently.

I nearly got caught out during my final "job" as I didn't follow my own golden rule. I joined a large corporation at the age of 22 to gain domain experience for my business idea and also so that I could leverage borrowings against a nice salary to execute another business idea.
They placed me in a pair of splendid golden handcuffs and the golden rule went out the window.
- Every year I got a "great" bonus and pay rise.
- They paid all my pension contributions and sent me a statement every year showing how rich I'd be at 65 if I served them for another four decades.
- They lent me an awesome car.
- They let me work from home.
- They got me the latest iPhone.
- They gave me free shares every year.

If I left then I would lose the lot, suddenly my business plans didn't seem so attractive! But I'd already got plenty of domain experience and bought a house, done it up and flipped it for a tidy profit (business idea 2). So despite growing up with an entrepreneurial mindset, I had started wondering towards the slaughterhouse in the slow lane. Forsaking my own golden rule.

Thankfully in 2017 the company had a shocker but I did not, my results were great. Due to the overall group results, the company started making layoffs and therefore couldn't justify looking after its top performers. My annual pay rise was less than 2% and my bonus did not compare with my results...… I experienced the most entitled and self centred, spoilt brat F U event in existence and promptly quit at the age of 31 to pursue my original plan.

I nearly ended up as a miserable employee even though it went against everything that I believed in. It happens very easily. People would argue that this wasn't a dead end job but I would argue that it was. The speed that you drive down a dead end road doesn't change the fact that the road is dead at the end.

How do people end up in Dead End jobs at the age of 40?

They never took the first step towards their goals. They either took a step in the wrong direction or never took a step at all.

I hope that one day I can help people to take their step. But I also hope that I can empower my employees to fly the nest.
 

The Abundant Man

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They never planned and never executed. They never had dreams. They did not write their goals down. They did not follow through. They did not take action to achieve their goals and dreams.
 

Al Berton

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This is a really moving piece. I'm glad it was one of the first things I got to read on this forum. I am more or less in the same boat as are many people. I have a degree but crippling debt and the job market crash insured that I won't make anywhere near what I would have made had I gotten the degree earlier. I'm 26 and my dad is someone who really breaks my heart in a similar way as the story did to me. He is a hard worker with 30 years in his trade but its in construction where he will never pull more than 50 grand a year ever. My mom has nothing but a string of jobs that she gets between having kids or dealing with health issues. She has no prospects of starting out at 50 with never more than 8 years in any given field of work and no actual skills.

The sad part that breaks my heart is that both of them, but especially my father, believed with his whole being that if he just worked hard he would get ahead in life. But that isn't true. It takes something extra. He works 40-60 hours a week every week in the baking Florida sun working on industrial buildings with multi-million dollar contracts with barely enough pay to cover his own bills much less put any of his children into college or start a retirement fund. And now a few years shy of 60 he has broken down. He is a shell of who he was really because he has always had this belief that somehwere in the vague future that was always just beyond his fingertips would be everything he ever dreamed of. The American dream that we are taught is more or less a lie. Its out there but getting it is tricky. It isn't just working hard. It takes hard work but so much more than that. And as the OP said our system requires that not everyone can get it. Hell, it requires that the majority of us never get it.

I started planning last year but this year I began putting things into action to get out of my wage-whore job and take some form of control of my own financial life. Because I don't want to end up like my father. Hopefully so I can help my father and mother. Also to help my two younger siblings. I don't want them to have to shoulder what our parents did or what I've shouldered until now. Its a depressing thought to know that your time, the very exhibition of your life, can be calculated to exact pennys and dimes of predetermined worth. That is why so many people live in their phones and spend endless hours watching mindless forms of entertainment. Everyone has their tetris game to keep them distracted from the maddening reality of the situation of the majority of Americans. I got friends that still work at basically minimum wage. I'm doing a hell of a lot better than them but in the grand scheme of things all it means is that I can get the double quarter pounder meal instead of the dollar menu at mcdonalds.

My core reason for coming here is to hopefully learn a thing or two so that I don't ruin real chances to make a difference in my life.
Boy, I wish I had the clear vision you have. This is the base for your future.
 

Aunt Clyde

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Life happens to those who aren't making it happen.

Jesus... I feel for that guy. Back to the grind!
This reminds me of the time I was in Macy's looking for a new mattress for my new apartment at the time. I was looking around on my own when a woman who had to have been at least in her 80s and leaning on a walker made a casual comment about mattresses. At first I thought she was just some random woman using a walker who was trying to make small talk. But when she kept talking about the mattresses I realized she was a salesperson. Imagine being in your 80s, requiring acwalker to get around and being a salesperson at Macy's. So depressing.
 

Suzanne Bazemore

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He then asked "What do you do Andy?". Ah, I suddenly realised all those parents keep coming in every evening after fighting their way through traffic and see me playing with the kids all the time.

I gave him the high-level view and offered to have a chat about it over coffee sometime. I hope he takes me up on it.
@Andy Black , did your neighbor ever take you up on that coffee?
 

LittleJohn

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This hurts to read again.

Please please please, if you’re reading this and have kids: Wake up! Remember why you’re doing this.
I find myself during times of reflecting (questioning?) on my decision to leave my corporate job to stay home with the kids (5 and 3 now) 8 months ago to create a business.

Generally Im doing this refelecting when I realize that Im still figuring things out and working out how to start taking smart action again and not remain stuck in the learning loop. I typically find solace in spending time with the kids way more than I would of ever been able to before.

Im thankful for so much including this forum for being very eye opening and helping me on my journey to help over 1 million people.
 

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Oilman

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Short answer: They sucked at their lives all around.

Longer answer: The big 3 are: Fitness, social, and career. You can never lose track of the big three. To some extent they have to do that work because they grew up with no father so their odds of running into problems with the law skyrocket. I used to work in food industry and have worked with some of the worst people you will ever meet. The tallyman always collects his pay.
 

Dusty_19

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I just quit a sales job today. Place had me feeling the same as the guy described in the original post... I have been in that position far too many times, and yet I am only 25 years young. Funny because this sales job was selling what I am most passionate about, yet it still ended up bringing me back to that hollow feeling of working a dead end job. I have about $5 to my name right now, a one month old son, and a soon to be wife that relies on me as the main source of income. Am I scared? Hell yes i am, but thats what makes us or breaks us right?

Don't be afraid to take steps people, your dreams won't become reality just sitting in one spot, even if its spending your days on this computer. Get out and take some action! A good friend of mine who passed away some years ago once told me, "Do at least one thing every day that scares you."
So it has been over 3 years since I posted this, and I have made significant progress as far as financial and stability standpoints are concerned. I ended up taking a job from my father in law at a electrical distribution and wholesale supply warehouse about five months after posting this. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was needed to keep things afloat. I am still currently with the company. I work as a low level associate inside the shipping department inside the warehouse. They offer an employee ESOP program in which my shares owned are increased by 20% for the first five years, and at five I will own 100%. Contribution rate has been a steady 15-20% year over year. September I will own 60% of $18,000, and I currently have $9,000 in my personal savings account. Father in law has offered to pay off our remaining $5,000 car loan debt, leaving my wife and I with only monthly living expenses (rent, utilities, food).

I also took up retail futures trading two years ago in an attempt to slowly build some capital on the side and possibly pay off some existing debts. I have since paid $3,500 in tuition to the markets and slowly drained my trading account to zero. Anyone who trades will know that risk management is usually learned the hard way unfortunately. In the entire process I found that my biggest hurdle was the psychology behind trading with an “under funded” account. I fell victim to poor logic and emotional reactions without regard to proper risk management and logical strategy. I managed to grow my “paper” or “sim” account from 100k to 163k this year alone which has since shown me that it is possible to be net positive as a part time trader with the proper tools. I would still like to continue trading once I have enough capital to put at risk as I honestly love it and enjoy everything about the market.

As far as my day job, I want to quit every single day. The burning desire to do something meaningful in my life has never left me. I spend my entire day thinking about problems I could solve, and things I enjoy doing, pain points I see at work that can be improved on, etc. etc. At this point, I have so many things going on in my head at any given time that I don’t even know half the time what ideas are logical and actionable, and what ideas are just a product of emotional boredom and forced desire to move forward.

None of this may sound fast lane, but I have taken the approach that nothing I am going to do will happen overnight. I am putting in the slow lane work to pay the bills and build capital. I am always going to be working towards my goal of building a meaningful life for myself. I hope to one day meet up with my fellow fast lane friends here in Arizona because I desperately need a crash course in networking. It is definitely my next step to conquer in my process.

Cheers to the never ending hustle :thumbsup:
 

Solais

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Most people are constrained by a mental barrier that is so powerful that no amount of facts and truth can break through to them.

Some people would rather endure eternal, low-key torture than make difficult changes in their lives that might only last one or two years.

I went the exact opposite route a couple years ago, after reading some of the more genuine business books - I told myself, deep down, that I would rather die than live a life where I cannot provide something meaningful and valuable to other people.

That sounds extreme, but you need a powerful mindset to really understand.

Although I'm not a conservative or right-winger (more of a centrist), I read about how former Fox News host Glenn Beck was an alcoholic in his late 20's. He contemplated suicide while listening to Kurt Cobain, because his early career was a failure and he was overwhelmed completely by dread. I know that feeling, although I never turned to alcohol/drugs cuz I'm not THAT emo.

And you know the rest of the story - he became a loony yet popular guy on cable TV. The Obama presidency was actually the perfect blessing for him, LOL!
 

RadicalShift

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EXCELLENT post @Vigilante and imo it should be required reading for new members

You were able to communicate the pain in such a compelling way...that could only come from “living” it, even if that part of your life is ancient history.

The thing is, we have all been in situations where we’ve dealt with people like this in one way or another.

More often than not, we (well, I’m speaking for myself here) would not even show this person patience let alone compassion and empathy.

While I’m here to learn, give and share, I beleive it is our responsibility to reach and impact folks like this.

To remind them that what they seek is possible FOR THEM...

And that they are no different, better then, less then, anyone else who has done what they only dream about.

I think it all starts with DE-programming the limited beliefs that have brought (or held) us/them there in the first place.
 

Bertram

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Very good writing. Thanks for sharing.

Reminds me of the other day, when I was in line to pick up carry out. The group in front of me was congratulating a lady who was about to retire. They were all quite a bit older. I'd guess she was in her 60s or maybe even 70s. Scared the work right out of me.
This is a long, rambling story I wanted to share with you after I was troubled by something I saw the other night. It's almost written as a short story. If you don't like a little introspection, or are reading for a business plan, skip this thread. Someone out there needed to hear this message, and I hope it gets in the hands of the people that needed to read this. Many of us might see ourselves through the eyes of the main character below. - Vigilante

I stopped in with my kid a few nights ago to a local sub sandwich shop, and the sad story written there is etched in my mind. In a combination of thankfulness and helpfulness, I pour out the story here like retelling of a dream. Only, this wasn’t a dream, but a glimpse into the desperate eyes of thousands of people across the United States. The forgotten ones, the failures of capitalism. The working class.

You can find my perception judgmental, until you realize that the story also marks the beginning of my story. I was this guy. Dropping out of school, I was working in retail. Young and not wise enough to realize the deck was stacked against me, I bucked the odds. Through a combination of tenacity and reinvention, I broke the mold. However, I can give you a glimpse into the life I saw a few nights ago, and give you eyes to see through the hands and into the heart and mind of the clerk, the salesperson, the forgotten ones.

I pulled into the sandwich shop, needing to get my kid a sandwich. Having spent the afternoon at an amusement park and her private swimming lessons, if I brought her fuel tank back on “empty” I would be answering to her mother. A ham and cheese better than nothing, we pulled my paid-for vehicle into the lot and went into the store. We ordered some food, and settled into a booth that she would spend the next fifteen minutes using as a jungle gym. She’s the kid that you hate sitting at the table next to.

It was then that I saw him, the 21 year old mirror image of me. Only, he was probably 48. Dressed in a cheap suit and tie, name tag slung around his neck like a noose, he was on a 29 minute escape from his evening shift at the mens clothing store a few doors down the mall. His suit was a little rumpled, which was probably OK as a quick scan of the parking lot indicated there probably were no customers to notice that night anyway. His eyes showed that he was a million miles away.

He was on about minute 10 of his 29 minute escape, an unpaid half hour that extended his required scheduled time by the same 29 minutes. You get a half hour break plus two fifteen minute breaks for every eight hours you work in the United States. A half hour isn’t really enough time to do anything, and most nights the time is spent sitting in the break room, watching the clock and wishing you were anywhere else. It's just enough time for you to settle in to your resentment of your job, and then the bell rings or the whistle blows and you are right back where you started from.

This wasn’t his first job, and likely wouldn’t be his last. A series of choices and setbacks had led him to this sandwich shop that night. He turned it over in his head, over and over and over again. When he left the clothing shop for his "break" his 24 year old boss told him to make sure he was back on time this time. As if there were another time that he hadn’t been. F*cker.

He looked at the clock on his 4th generation iPhone, and with 19 minutes left, his mind slipped away into another mindless game of Tetris. He set his personal high score last week, in what was probably his millionth game. High score. The occasion passed with nothing more than a quick flash on the screen, and then he was back folding shirts again.

His dinner that night cost him more than he made for the last hour. He had a base pay of $12 plus commission, but with no customers in the shop, there was no commission. Add to that he was required to take a half hour unpaid, and his sandwich cost him more than he made after taxes for nearly two hours.

The Tetris helped him forget. It helped him forget that his son's tuition was due tomorrow. He felt dead. He felt trapped. When he allowed himself to think about it, he couldn’t breathe. His ability to pretend it wasn’t happening ended when the credit card was declined, and then they started calling. Not sure what he was supposed to tell them. He put their number on ignore, but knew that was only going to make it all worse.

He looked at the clock as he drifted away into another game. 9 minutes left.

They told him tonight they were cutting his hours back to one hour less than full time. He’d have even less. He didn’t have anything to say. Where else would he go? When he took this job, he told himself it was just temporary. But last week turned into yesterday, which turned into today. And now he had to go home, and tell his wife he just got a pay cut.

6 minutes.

It was easier to just not think about it. Three more hours of standing around a store with no customers. It made no sense to him. He got mad. He thought about the fact that his time was worth so little to them that they would just have him stand around, folding shirts and paying him less than a sandwich. Last month, they changed the commission plan so that even the sales he did were subtracted from his “salary” before he got any commission. Tonight, though, that wouldn’t matter.

4 minutes.

He would almost rather be there than at home.

3 minutes. He slumped down in his chair. He didn’t want to be there. The sandwich made him sick, as the stress turned into a knot in his stomach. He started another game, and then realized he had to get back. Back to what? Back to nothing. Back to his time clock. He had to rush back to be on time to stand around.

He crumpled up his salary in the form of a sandwich wrapper, and headed towards the door. Making a left, he was the only one headed to the clothing store from the parking lot. He’d watch the clock roll towards 9PM, knowing his wife was likely to be asleep when he got home.

And tomorrow, it would start all over again.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


This forum gets dozens of thousands of hits per week. Many of them are people just like this guy, looking for something that can help them. Something that can encourage them. Something that can teach them. Maybe… maybe that guy is you.

These people are all around us. Capitalism requires it. There are more of them than there are of us. Most of them will never break out. Most of them will never find a way. Some won’t do it because they can’t, some won’t do it because they won’t. Some won’t do it because they think it is game over.

The guy in the sandwich shop reminded me of me. I was him. I fought like hell and found a way, but absent that I once wore his suit. Many of us did.

It’s not enough for you to take everything from this forum and use it for your own gain. It’s not enough for you to read the Millionaire Fast Lane, the Four Hour Work Week, start your business, and live happily ever after. Your life will still be devoid of meaning until you figure out how to reach people with scale and bring them with you.

Look deeply into the eyes of the clothing store clerk in the sandwich shop. At a minimum, lets realize that he deserves compassion. He may never make it. He may never find it. He may always live from day to day eating those shitty sandwiches. Showing you shirts. Folding shirts. And you and I? We look past him. We wonder why he's such an a**hole at the clothing store.

KAK left the forum. He then came back to reach more people in scale. MJ DeMarco could have just walked away, and never written the Millionaire Fast Lane.

I taught some classes last fall. Most of the people sitting in the class were in various stages of being that guy in the sandwich shop. I haven’t reached enough of them yet. We’re not all called to be teachers. Some can give back through philanthropy. Some can give back through teaching. Others through works or other ways of effecting people, either individually or in scale.

Not sure why I spent the time telling you all this, other than the realization that had my life taken some different turns, I could have been that guy in the sandwich shop. That guy is here. Reading this post. Rather than step around them when they find us, maybe we should do a better job here at the forum of helping them find a way.

What will your legacy look like?
You're a great storyteller, author @Vigilante .
That hopeless retail employee was a truly familiar figure in my life once, in a former existence when I had to take on a third job to move my daughter to private school (extreme bullying had set in at the public school option, and the good-natured girls also were being paired with full-on psychotic kids whose parents were in jail, to soothe them - but that's another story).
I worked evenings and summer weekends as a clothing tailor at a chain department store. Only managers worked these shifts.
New sales people never lasted beyond three weeks and wouldn't bother giving notice. When I went to training in a regional office two states away, the sad-eyed, stooped women in their late seventies took one look at me and shook their heads at each other. One said what are you doing, don't you know retail is so hard, it'll take years to make the climb up.
My daughter who was then seven years old got an allowance for extra chores. All summer she saved her dollars. I didn't know why. Then she bought me a silver ring with a big blue topaz that she had seen in the jewelry aisle. She said it was to help me to remember the blue summer sky while I worked indoors all weekend all summer in formal wear.
We never looked back.
Move ahead eleven years. I was giving her MJ's philosophy while we kayaked or biked under the blue summer sky.
Move forward a few years more. Now my daughter lives under the bluest Tucson skies so as to build a true fastlane future as an entrepreneurial physicist. The work demand is wild. She has a wealth advisor. Up, up and away.
 
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Vigilante

Vigilante

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You're a great storyteller, author @Vigilante .
That hopeless retail employee was a truly familiar figure in my life once, in a former existence when I had to take on a third job to move my daughter to private school (extreme bullying had set in at the public school option, and the good-natured girls also were being paired with full-on psychotic kids whose parents were in jail, to soothe them - but that's another story).
I worked evenings and summer weekends as a clothing tailor at a chain department story. Only managers worked these shifts.
New sales people never lasted beyond three weeks and wouldn't bother giving notice. When I went to training in a regional office two states away, the sad-eyed, stooped women in their late seventies took one look at me and shook their heads at each other. One said what are doing, don't you know retail is so hard, it'll take years to make the climb up.
My daughter who was then seven years old got an allowance for chores. All summer she saved her dollars. I didn't know why. Then she bought me a silver ring with a big blue topaz that she had seen in the jewelry aisle. She said it was to help me to remember the blue summer sky while I worked indoors all weekend all summer in formal wear.
We never looked back.
Move ahead eleven years. I was giving her MJ's philosophy while we kayaked or biked under the blue summer sky.
Move forward a few years more. Now my daughter lives under the bluest Tucson skies so as to build a true fastlane future as an entrepreneurial physicist. The work demand is wild. She has a wealth advisor. Up, up and away.
You BROKE THE CYCLE. I loved your story.
 

Suzanne Bazemore

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@Vigilante, I was re-reading your OP for inspiration. I don't know how I missed this article the first time, but I literally burst out laughing. That's pretty much what I did in June.

What will your legacy look like?
And this question is why I did it (quit my job). I thought, how can I be an example to my kids if I don't go for it. After almost slipping back into another job, for security's sake, I decided instead to become a real estate agent so that I can leverage my time and spend my days helping people while learning how to invest. I have to be on guard, though, to not let myself slip back into the script just because of the security. It is not secure. It is a mirage. Now I get to walk around outside, in the fall (eventually, it arrives late in Houston), and enjoy glorious days instead of being stuck in the same ten square feet of space. I appreciate everyone on this forum who called me out and gave me the courage to do it.
 

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