The Pace of Progress

My first job at 14 years old was working at a family-owned franchise root beer and burger stand. Stewart’s Root Beer was iconic at the Jersey shore. It was a 50’s style drive-in.

When you started at Stewart’s, you were stationed at the fryers. It was the lowest job on the totem pole. You had to endure the hot (un-airconditioned) kitchen for long shifts in front of the fryers. I remember my face, hair, and white uniform and apron was filled with grease when I left for home after those long shifts. Disgusting.

But that part-time job, even at minimum wage ($2/hr), paid for a full year’s tuition at the local Catholic High School. I saved all summer, and was able to pay for my tuition and a 10-speed bike.

Of course, in those days social mobility existed, and kids like me knew Stewart’s wasn’t a career. It was an entrée into the workforce. Almost all the kids I knew took part-time jobs. Many of them worked on the Seaside boardwalk.

I am conflicted about this pace of progress. Spending my career in technology adds more weight to my angst. Experts predict 80% of today’s restaurant workers will be replaced by robots.

According to recent data, the majority of fast-food workers are women. And the average age is not 14; it’s 28. There are three and a half million people employed in fast food restaurants.

Now, in my golden years, I make no excuse for taking full advantage of my in-home robot services (Siri, Alexa) to turn on my lights, play my podcasts, tell me the news, and create my grocery list.

Acknowledging that technology and globalization are the fundamental drivers for income inequality, I do find myself wondering (worrying about) what will happen to those at the bottom of the income scale who have no social mobility options.

Who is Maya Angelou?

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

It was probably 2014, around this time (May 28), when Maya Angelou passed that everyone was talking about the famous poet. I had just begun working on my startup dedicated to violence against women after my long career in technology. At that time, my oldest daughter was working with me. I asked her, “Who is Maya Angelou?”

She was shocked and somewhat appalled that I could ask such an ignorant literary question.

She told me she was one of the most famous contemporary poets and civil rights activists of our time. I shrugged, and went on with what I was doing.

It took me a few years to finally dig into Angelou’s brilliance. When I found the poem, Still I Rise, I recognized myself in it. It reminded me of what one of my male tech partners once said about me that I didn’t understand, so I had to look it up. He told me he admired how I would, “Rise like a Phoenix, over and over again.”

Such a universal truth for women emboldened with the will to survive, to overcome.

And therein lies some of the mystery as to why I’m uninformed as to the great feminist writers. I spent a lifetime competing in a man’s world, surrounded by men, reading men’s words predominantly. I did not have the luxury to invest in learning about the oppression and discrimination that dogged me throughout my professional career.

I am learning now.

An Artist’s Life

I’ve joined a local artist’s group on Zoom to pass the pandemic confinement. I enjoy sharing my amateur photography and learning about the artist scene here in Northeast SD. I’ve been writing a lot more too, getting closer to signing up for a writing course to learn how to write officially. After all these years. Might take a photography course too.

Best of all, I’ve begun weekly sessions with a therapist. So helpful.

Life is good.

Best, bestest news: first vaccine on Monday!

Update: I have a photography website now.