A little over a month ago I started working part-time at a very well known grocery store stocking shelves. Last week and this week I have been crosstraining in cashiering, lottery and working their liquor store. I have mentioned that I got a new part-time gig on social media but haven’t mentioned the specifics until now because, quite simply, I was embarrassed.
I now realize that’s just …stupid. I have no reason to be embarrassed!
This week, when I am not working at the store I have been working on my non-profit and social media consulting (as usual.) Kristine Stolakis has been filming Dan and my one-year date-anniversary and my efforts to form this new non-profit. Of course, being a documentarian, she wanted to include my working at a grocery store. When the subject first came up I was very “NO” about it.
Why “No!”? Aside from my own vanity, there is no doubt in my mind that my former friends and now enemies in the ex-gay world will guffaw and laugh at my stocking shelves. Especially after so many years as an Executive Director of a local ministry and the EVP of Exodus. Or they will say that I have been demoted because of God’s judgment or something equally ridiculous. Indeed, even current offline and LGBT+ affirming friends have had hard to take reactions. One literally had to stifle laughter when I told them through my own derisive description. Another friend actually looked like she got angry and outright shamed me for “settling;” on a slighly different note, another told me I shouldn’t say anything publicly until “it was over” because they were afraid people would attack or judge me negatively.
Remember those last three examples are people I love and still love. But the one that was stifling laughter woke me up. I walked away ashamed of how vain I was being and how really self-loathing it was to denigrate myself for having to wear an apron and name tag. That it is an honor to have a job (I actually have three now). I have no reason to have anything but gratitude in my heart.
I am creating the non-profit simply because it is an organization that needs to exist in the world to help others… period. Whether I am ever actually paid staff or not isn’t the point… this org MUST exist. So, I need a part-time job now (along with my consulting) to free up the space needed to concentrate on getting the non-profit going in a thoroughly solid “well-built” way.
During this time in our (Dan and my) lives, we are struggling financially, big time. And, interestingly, potential employers aren’t super impressed with former “ex-gay” spokespeople and leaders. I have literally sent out hundreds of resumes to “dream jobs” or even parallel (skillset-wise) jobs and have gotten mostly crickets chirping. However, many of the interviews that did happen were just … awful. Trying to explain my management experience to dazed and confused “What the hell is Exodus?” looks is not fun.
So, to the grocery store, I go. And honestly, I actually love working at the grocery store. It’s hard work! Plus, you really do have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the shift. I get to interact with people the entire time and holy cow… something incredibly funny or weird happens every shift. If you are local and happen to walk into a grocery store and hear some really bad under my breath Mariah Carey Karaoke going on over on aisle 8…that’s probably me :).
“Randy, could you please put your apron on again so we can film it from a different angle?” was Kristine’s question as I was getting ready for my shift yesterday. I did as asked and when we were talking about it I told her something to the effect that working at the grocery store is something I simply have to do during this time in my life. It’s part of what it means for me to live an authentic life right now. I also shared that I would rather stock shelves living an honest life than flying around the country living and promoting a lie. I’d rather laugh with the “Oh, my, Gahhh…” cashier in the break-room over some silly joke her best friend told her than sit in some private conference green room stroking another hypocrite’s ego.
Since coming out, I’ve never hidden any part of my life. Not going to start now.
How long will I be a grocery clerk? As long as it is needed to help keep the lights on and my family fed; as long as I believe God wants to use it to continue to teach and guide me through this season of life. As I walked across the big parking lot and into the store yesterday, with the camera crew filming from the car in the parking lot, I honestly thought I felt the Spirit say, “There’s no shame in this walk. It’s an honor to work here. Proud of you.”
Oh and if you need help finding *anything* in our store… I got you,