A job is a job. Only a douchebag would think otherwise.

Did you hear about Fox News reporting on former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens being spotted bagging groceries at a New Jersey Trader Joes?

The shopper who spotted the actor said that she was grocery shopping with her wife on Saturday evening when she recognized Owens and took some photos.

Then the news outlet decided to purchase those photos and make it a story.

This is awful, of course. Job shaming at its finest. Though Geoffrey Owens has continued to act and appeared in guest spots on TV shows such as "Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "That's So Raven" and most recently starred in an episode of "Lucifer" in 2017, it''s certainly not news if he's choosing to bag groceries when the acting jobs aren't paying the bills.

Job shaming is nothing new, and I hate it. I’ve experienced a bit of it in my time.

When I was 16 years old, I started working at McDonald's, and by the age of 17, I was a manager in the restaurant. I continued to manage McDonald's restaurants throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut from 1987 when I finally graduated from college in 1999. 

It's how I put myself through college. 

Though I've worked many jobs before and since then, including as a elementary school teacher, a novelist, a magazine columnist, a public speaker, a wedding DJ, and the founder and creative director of Speak Up, no job has come close in terms of difficulty as managing a McDonald's restaurant. 

Motivating 60-80 people - high school students, stay-at-home moms, immigrants, retirees, parolees, non-English speakers, high school dropouts, and side hustlers - to work together for little more than minimum wage was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Add to that managing labor and food costs, scheduling, customer relations, calculating P&L statements, equipment calibration and repair, vendor negotiations, training, advertising, board of health inspections, and being the best at every position in the restaurant - made this job incredibly demanding.

Both mentally and physically.

Yet when I left McDonald’s for teaching, people would say things to me like, “I don’t know how you did that mindless work for so long,” and “Thank God you escaped that hellhole.”


McDonald’s taught me to manage my time effectively. Delegate responsibility. Prioritize. Communicate and collaborate with people from background entirely different than my own. I learned about responsibility. Integrity. Motivation. Hard work.

I learned to crack four eggs in two hands simultaneously. Clean and repair HVAC units. Swear in Spanish.

I believe that every Fortune 500 company - regardless of the nature of their business - would do well by identifying the most successful McDonald’s managers in the country and stealing them for their own companies. These are motivated, intelligent, and gritty people who would serve your organization well.

Once you can manage a fast food restaurant successfully and profitably, you can do anything.

Some of the finest people who I have ever known have been the McDonald’s managers who worked alongside me.

Yet I also know what people thought of me when I managed those restaurants. Some of the customers would say these terrible things right to my face.

Happily for Geoffrey Owens, his story has a slightly happy ending. In an interview, he explained that much of his financial struggle is the result of The Cosby Show being pulled from syndication because of the Bill Cosby’s sordid past coming to light.

But upon hearing about this incident, Tyler Perry spoke up, offering Owens a 10-episode deal on his own show, “The Haves and the Have Nots.”

Despite the opportunity, Owens also understands that he still may need to go back to Trader Joe’s at some point.

He explained that acting is calling. “I’m going to keep pursuing it,” he said. “I’m going to persevere. And even if that means, that eventually when all this hoopla dies down, I might need to take another job outside of the business. I’m still willing to do that.”

And no one should think there is anything wrong with that.

Matthew Dicks McDonalds.jpg