The original title of my article was going to be “Stripping Killed My Work Ethic”, but after lots of thinking and reflecting over the past few days, I’m not so sure. I think it more or less destroyed my ability to relate the dollar to the job at hand.
My change in attitude came as I sat on a riverboat cruise last weekend. My dad’s thirty-fifth class reunion was open to the children of those graduates, and my cousins would be there (my Mom’s brother was in my Dad’s class), so I decided to tag along.
We had a bartender on the bus with us, and she looked to be my age or a little younger. As I sat there during the long drive, I was thinking to myself about how lucky she was -- she was probably going to bring home at least $250 in tips! I figured with roughly 50 people on the bus, if everyone contributed $5 for her being there, she was making a killing.
Later that day though, I got a wake-up call of sorts. After our cruise was done and we had driven back to our starting point, I got in the car with my dad to go pick up my youngest son, who was being watched by my cousin. He said that he hadn’t been sure if they were supposed to tip the bus driver, but they had put some money in an envelope for him. One of his classmates brought it to the front of the bus as everyone was exiting, asked the bartender if the envelope was supposed to go to her, and of course, she said yes. The person handing it over may have thought the bartender and bus driver were a package deal, so it was a misunderstanding.
My dad just left it at that. As he was telling me about this, though, he said she “must have made out like a bandit”, because she had to have at least made $125 for the day (the trip lasted a total of 8 hours, with her actually bartending about 3 of those), even without that extra money that was supposed to have gone to the driver.
All of a sudden, it just hit me. He was right! If she made $125 for only actually bartending for 3 hours, she WAS making out pretty damn good! I could also see where he was coming from. My dad owns his own plumbing business, and is truly killing his body and therefore himself on a daily basis to make sure our family has everything we need, his grandkids included.
Killing himself, as in he is continuing to work even though his hips both are in desperate need of replacement, he needs his knees replaced, and he just recovered from a pelvis he broke on the job. The man can barely walk. But day in and day out, he works a minimum of 12 hours, doing everything from service calls to paperwork.
I spent the next 2 days replaying this over and over in my mind. It’s not that my work ethic is shot. When I have a job, I put my all into it. I get along with all sorts of people, and truly enjoy being busy. It was just that up until this weekend, I felt like I was entitled to more money than most people are willing to pay. I blame stripping for my messed up view of how the dollar relates to the job.
I started stripping when I was 18 years old, first to try to get a reaction out of a boyfriend who paid more attention to his computer games than he did to me. Then I discovered how easily and quickly I could make a ton of money. All I had to do was stay in great shape (which, when you’re still a teen, isn’t very much work at all!), smile, and fake flirt with men I’d most likely never see again.
That’s it. And I’d walk out with $500 a night. I worked in that industry in an on-and-off way for a short time, but it forever changed my relationship with money and working.
Now, I’m 29 years old. I have degrees, certificates, licenses and a terrible work history, because for years, I’ve been chasing that feeling of getting paid a lot for a little work. I might start a job absolutely loving it, but I inevitably start to remember how I could be making the same amount of money I’d make for working two weeks in two days.
And from there, everything goes downhill. I let the smallest things bother me, and eventually I end up quitting. Of course, I’ve left jobs that were just bad from the start, but it bothers me that I’ve left simply because I miss the quick cash of my stripping days. It was so EASY!
It’s gotten to the point where, in my current “looking for work” situation, I’m perusing every job website on a daily basis, always thinking “This is all these people think I’m worth?!!? I busted my butt to finish my degree, and I can’t even get a living wage?!” It’s frustrating. It’s disheartening to know that I’d put my all into any job I could get, but I’d barely be able to survive financially. And deep down inside, I know I could just go work in a strip club a couple nights a week and make the same amount of money.
Of course, I know that no matter how attractive people perceive you to be, everyone ages. Stripping is a short-course career, and I know I need to find something I can do until retirement, but with wages the way they are, it doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to retire anyway.
All in all, I’ve come to realize that it’s time to grow up and get a real job, but more importantly, I need to let go of the belief that stripping is reality. Most jobs don’t pay a lot for a little. It’s usually the other way around.
Stripping didn’t actually kill my work ethic. It’s there. I just need to remember that hard work does pay off, eventually.