Geoffrey Owens quits working at Trader Joe's after job-shaming

After former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens was spotted by the Hollywood media bagging groceries at the local Trader Joe’s, things seemed to really go downhill. People were swarming him and asking how something like that could have happened. Many people were seemingly very upset, while others seemed to be mocking Owens for having to take such a menial job. In fact, the only person who didn’t seem to be upset was Owens himself, who insisted that it was a good job and he was doing just fine.

Well, he’s not doing as fine now. After all the unwanted attention and reporters mobbing the store, Owens finally had to quit his position there. (Entertainment Weekly)

Owens, who worked at the grocery store for 15 months, said he first took the job because he wanted “flexibility” in order to stay in the entertainment business. (He’s been acting, teaching, and directing for over 30 years.)

“People recognized me every day and they were very, very cool about it,” he said, adding that he had to quit over the attention.

Owens went on to say that he hopes his experience will reshape “what it means to work, the honor of the working person, [and] the dignity of work.”

“I hope that this period that we’re in now, where we have a heightened sensitivity about that, and a reevaluation of what it means to work and the idea that some jobs are better than others — that’s actually not true,” he said. “There is no job that’s better than another job. It might pay better, it might have better benefits, it might look better on a resume and on paper. But actually, it’s not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable.”

Here’s a brief interview with ABC that they tweeted out. You’ll see that Owens is definitely one of the few people in Hollywood who didn’t have a problem doing work.

So here’s a hearty congratulations to all of you who felt you had to make a big deal about this and swarm the store looking for interviews. The guy had to quit over it. Well done, America.

Owens deserves better, if only for his attitude. There have been far too many people who “made it big” in Hollywood and later fell from the top tier. How many of them wound up being drug addicts and lost souls? Owens kept on plugging, taking acting, teaching and coaching positions. And when there wasn’t work in his field he took other jobs, including bagging groceries, that kept his schedule free so he could go on auditions and keep looking for work.

It’s that last quote from him that I hope everyone focuses on. “I hope my experience will reshape what it means to work, the honor of the working person, the dignity of work.” This guy doesn’t just play characters. He has character.

My first response was to hope that perhaps some of these Hollywood bigwigs would take notice and cast him in some juicy parts if they’re so worried about him. But Owens beat me to the punch and already said he doesn’t want anything given to him just because of this story.

“I wouldn’t mind getting auditions … but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone giving me a job because this happened,” he said. “I want to get a job because I’m the right person for that job.

I have to suppress my natural urge to suggest that this guy run for office. I’m sure he’d be great, but given the conditions in Washington right now, such a demeaning position as Senator or congressman would be far below Owens’ dignity.

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