An Open Letter To My CEO
talia jane

Hi Talia — I won’t slam you as others here have already flattened you with their observations of your mistakes. We all make them, and eventually, most of us learn from and excel because of them. I, too, lived on rice for a number of years. I was a stay-at-home mom with a new baby and a husband earning $8/hr. as a machinist. If not for his parents allowing us to live in their lake cabin, we’d have been homeless or living in a trailor, or an apartment, or somewhere else where really young, really poor people live. I didn’t get the chance to finish college before I became a mom, so my career didn’t take off until I was 35ish. But the rice — yes, we shopped the dented food bin every week looking for protein to add to the rice and store-brand ketchup we were living on, because diapers and formula (I couldn’t breastfeed after I came down with an infection) cost 2/3s of my husband’s paycheck. Rice was cheap, we’d buy a 10lb. bag and a .99 cent bottle of ketchup and possibly a dented can or two of Spam, and live like kings. We did steal ketchup packets from fast food restaurants every chance we got, and sugar, and salt and pepper packets, too. And napkins. Because toilet paper also costs money. And we’d fish every chance we got, but in NJ you need a license to fish, and that costs money, so we’d fish at our own risk. When our kids got older, we’d have them fish because it’s free to fish under the age of 13. By then, though, I was able to finish my schooling and started working full time as a bank teller for the hours (best hours for a mom). Now we’ve both got good jobs, our kids are grown and out on their own, and we’re making retirement plans on what meager savings we’ve been able to scrape. My husband has two degrees, one in engineering, and we are still struggling (NJ is an expensive state). What I’m getting at, Talia, is that this is life. It doesn’t start off with high pay and all of our expectations. It starts off with a rough road and lots of hills to climb, and things that will test your will and strength. It gets tough, it gets rough, and sometimes you eat questionable Spam just to ensure you have enough protein in your diet to stick around and raise your kids. Put an egg in ramen with some spinach, there’s a good, cheap meal for you. A tablespoon of tuna or Spam in a pot of rice with a tablespoon of ketchup isn’t terrible. Live, Talia. Get a roommate, get two jobs, shop the dented can bin. You’ll do fine.

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