Most people remember the Cosby Show, and they probably remember a funny reoccurring character named Elvin Tibideaux (Geoffrey Owens) who was the husband of the oldest daughter Sondra. Well, last week there was an attempt to job shame Owens after a customer snapped a photo of him as he worked at a Trader Joe’s in Clifton New Jersey. Many recording artists an actors have to spend years working as waiters, retail clerks, and other low paying jobs while they strive to move to the next level in their careers or regain traction. Thus the description of the starving artist comes to mind. Our society tends to look down on these positions and on the artists who reach national fame but who still have to return to “normal life.”
Owen’s recent real-life episode quickly turned into a Cinderella story as the Internet (actors and everyday people) chimed in on his behalf. Owens told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, “I was really devastated…but the period of devastation was so short because so shortly after that…My wife and I start to read these responses from like literally all over the world of support, so, fortunately, the shame part didn’t last very long. It hurt but then…it’s amazing.”
The interview ended with Owens making some great points about the value of all work (BTW Mike Rowe – Dirty Jobs have been expressing similar sentiments for years).
This business of my being this Cosby guy who got shamed for working at Trader Joe’s, that’s going to past. In some measure of time that’s going to pass away. I hope what doesn’t pass is this idea of rethinking about what it means to work. The honor of the working person and the dignity of work, and 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. A reevaluation of the idea that some jobs are better than others, because that’s actually not true. There is no job that’s better than another job. It might pay better, it may have better benefits. It may look better on a resume and on paper, but actually it’s not better. Every job is worth while and valueable and if we have a kind of rethinking about that because of what’s happened to me that would be great. No one should feel sorry for me either from a positive or negative perspective. I’ve had a great life. I’ve had a great career and I’ve had a career that most actors would die for so no one has to feel sorry for me. I’m doing fine.