Consumerism: The social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts.
If you study or have studied Economics, you will know that consumerism refers to economic policies which emphasize consumption. Consumers have free choice to choose what they want, when they want it, and how they want their products.
I am a consumer. So are you. My great-great grandchildren will be consumers and none of this will ever change. So every job you see serves a purpose to sell or give to entice consumers to continue wanting or needing those services.
But sometimes it gets hard. Consumers can hurt companies, reviews, job growth and continue demanding more, more, more until the ones selling to consumers walk out, resign, retire, or find other jobs.
I am a consumer. So are you.
This past weekend my family and I went for a long walk on the beach and stopped in at a quaint beach side coffee shop afterwards. The coffee shop is expensive, the service perfect. We paid for our drinks and slice of cake and walked outside, sitting under a palm tree, enjoying the ocean breezes. The server brought us out the most beautiful cups of latte I have ever seen. It was meticulous and delicious. We made that coffee shop our go to place after long walks on the beach.
Why? Because as a consumer, I expected to get what I paid for and we definitely got it. Good service. Top quality product, and beautiful atmosphere. It was enough to make us coming back for more.
As a consumer, I understand good things like that beautiful latte are worth paying for and waiting for. But looking back on my past jobs, I see a truth about humans too.
I was a cook at a nursing and rehabilitation facility for years. My job was hard. Most days we nibbled a bite here and there and did not sit down for even a break. The elderly needed us to provide services for them. The team I was privileged to work with in that kitchen often worked with me double shifts, and we worked all holidays, even Christmas Day.
That was hard. It was little money, barely over minimum wage, and some days I just wanted to walk out. But something happened. I started paying attention to everything going on around me and noticed the one thing the elderly appreciated was the kitchen. It was me making fresh coffee for them when they asked. It was the diabetic desserts I had to invent for them based on their doctors orders.
They admired and taught me so much about the little things in life. They came there to die, but found joy in me offering them a service.
I saw that my service and hard work I was doing in that kitchen was bringing great joy and fulfillment to the elderly. And most often, when I got to know them is when they would pass away. It was the hardest job I have ever had, but yet the most fulfilling.
But I didn’t learn much about consumerism until I started working for a bank again, and saw that we are all consumers. We all have and leave an impact on businesses, the employees, and economy. We are all serving others within a capacity to either give good service and quality products, or leave a bad taste in the mouth.
No job is easy. We live in an economy bred for selling and making products for consumers. Sometimes those jobs are hard because the consumers make it hard. Sometimes the job is hard because the company doesn’t care about it’s employees, but rather cares more about its bottom line and shareholders.
And sometimes, we can look at the bigger picture of what service we are truly giving the world, and find joy in small moments, even at times we want to quit. Just like I learned while working for a nursing home as a cook.