Within an hour or so of being fired, I somehow ended up at a Whole Foods grocery store. It wasn’t on my way home, so I’m not really sure how, or why, I ended up there.
Still partially in a fog, I was surprised to look down to see my hands pushing a grocery cart that was half full. Nothing special, milk, eggs and my favorite energy bars.
I felt nauseous. I thought to myself, you were just fired. You can’t afford this stuff, especially from Whole Foods. No, Mr. Ex Employee, for the foreseeable future you are sentenced to do all your shopping at Grocery Outlet.
With apologies to the poor supermarket stocker who had to put all the stuff in my cart away, I abandoned it toward the back of the store. But my journey was more complicated than just leaving the store. No there were shelves and shelves of temptation that were between me and the exit.
I decided to turn it into a game. How could I get out of the store without feeling the urge to buy anything? I realized that I was standing fifteen feet from the pet aisle. So I headed for an aisle where I couldn’t even buy something if I had a twenty-five dollar gift certificate in my hand. Whew.
Just as I was leaving the store an employee offered me a slice of pineapple. I took it and it tasted unusually good.
It sounds ridiculous, but exiting that store felt like a victory. I realized that I needed to unlearn a series of behaviors that I’d developed as a gainfully employed individual. I’d entered the shopopocalpse, it was time for some serious belt tightening.
So when I got home I shredded half of the credit cards that were in my wallet. I decided that I would never again carry more than $20 in cash. I decided to embrace frugality and to squeeze that sucker dry.
But I also realized that there was one place where I needed to be extravagant. I put a box near my front door and filled it with energy bars. My goal would be to carry a few with me every time I left my home. Because I realized that there are many people out there who are hurting far more than me. People who’ve lost their jobs, their homes and are living in their car or with relatives.
When that grocery worker offered me that pineapple, I remembered how I’d worked through lunch earlier on the day I was fired and I realized that I was starving. Unwilling to buy anything before I got home, I savored that piece of pineapple. That was the moment that I realized that although I had to be frugal in most parts of my life for the foreseeable future. I needed to look for opportunities to help out other struggling people.
That was one of the biggest surprises so far as a person recently fired.
My a-ha. Changing your lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to give up living.
Next installment: A little bit pregnant
About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected].