I get a lot more than $7.25 an hour.
Buckle up and hold on.
At the beginning of the week I had a woman come into the shop where I work, a woman's clothing store. She came in with her two teenage daughters. I greeted her when she came in and asked if I could help her find anything (hey, they don't pay me $7.25 an hour for nothing). She shared with me that she'd had a baby a few months ago, her 6th child. Her daughters told me that she never bought anything for herself and they'd talked her into buying herself some clothes that weren't maternity. Well, we were having a really great sale and I led her to some of our best values (forget the $7.25, I could see she didn't do much for herself and showed her where the real savings in the store were). She tried on many things, reminding me of a child in a candy store, but picked out a selective few items. She found me when she was ready and asked if I'd ring her up. We don't work on commission, but I thought it was sweet that she wanted me to ring her up so we waited till there was a register open. She explained to me why she had picked out each piece, all practical reasons, such as how they'd go with more things and wouldn't show baby spit up as much as something else. I wanted to hug this woman and tell her that she should buy at least one thing for herself just because she wanted it, but it was clear that she couldn't really afford to do that. This is something that I understand completely. When I gave her the total, around $150, she paid a little more than half of it in cash and gave me a credit card for the balance. The card was declined. She gave me another card and it, too, was declined. Since we were having such a great sale, the store was fairly crowded and a line had formed behind her. I was being very quiet, trying to keep an appearance as if we were still chatting a little as she asked me to try one last card. It was declined. She told her daughters to go wait in the car. By this time, people are looking around each other to see what was going on at the front of the line, and I saw her eyes tear up, but she didn't let any escape. I asked if she'd like for me to try a little bit on each of the cards. This took a little time, testing each card for how much it would take, but from putting $30 on one, $10 on another and $20 on the last, I was able to bag her clothes and let her walk out of that store with her purchase. I'll never forget this woman.
Yesterday, again with a packed store, two little Hispanic children came running by me, laughing as they chased each other. I walked after them to see whom they belonged to as they ran up to their mom and dad, throwing their arms around their dad's leg, clearly something they were use to doing. I smiled and asked if there was anything I could help them find. The mom returned my smile and told me no, that they were fine. As I started to walk off, the man told me in slightly broken english "Don't worry, ma'am, we are going to buy something". I know I must have looked confused when he said that to me because he repeated "We're here to buy". I said "Well, we've got some great sales going on, so please take your time and browse". A little while later the woman brought me a very nice business suit and asked if she could try it on. I led her to a dressing room, telling her that I loved the suit and she told me that she had just gotten a job interview and wanted to look nice. Her husband was obviously a laborer, as he was dressed in some sort of uniform and, without meaning to sound judgemental, was covered in a fair amount of...dirt. When she came out of the dressing room to show her husband the outfit, she beamed. She looked absolutely beautiful in it. He smiled and nodded. A few minutes later she brought me the suit and said she'd take it. When I rang them up and gave them the total amount, the husband paid me in cash. As I took the cash from his hand, he made direct eye contact with me and said "See, I told you we would buy something". He didn't say it in a confrontational way, not at all. He said it in a way that made it clear to me that he has had to prove himself before. His english was broken, but it was clear that his pride was not.
As I've said before, the pay sucks, but I really don't hate my job.