Articles about Hobby Lobby are currently popping up all over social media. Should the company, as a non-human entity, be allowed religious rights? I’m not going to talk about that. I can’t offer any new insight. 99.96% of you already have your mind made up anyway. But what I can give you is an honest description of being employed by them: the good and the bad. To humanize the company (pun intended).
For the better part of the first decade of the millennium I worked for Hobby Lobby as a custom framer. Hobby Lobby is where I learned my trade. Hobby Lobby is where I met my wife, Shanna. Hobby Lobby is where I met my best friend, (excepting Shanna) Jim. Beyond lasting loves and friendships, a whole host of interesting people have come into my life because of Hobby Lobby, taught me something, and then left.
The hours were nice. I never had to be there earlier than 7:30am and never left later than 9:00pm…with the exception of the nights around Christmas when I opted to work through the nights to make deadlines (they paid over time and it is far easier to get things done when those pesky customers weren’t asking my opinions on linseed oil or something). I rarely worked on Sundays, which is a lot cooler than it sounds to many of you with 9-5 office jobs. And the pay, at $12/hr, certainly couldn’t support a family but for a single 20-something with nothing to pay for but cheap rent, cheaper beer, and the cheapest pizza, it was a chunk of change.
So, at least from my experiences, Hobby Lobby wasn’t the monster that one side of the political spectrum paints it as. Although, with its enormous stock of tacky home accents made in Asian sweatshops by barely fed slaves, it certainly isn’t the great savior of American freedoms that the other side wants to believe either (why middle-class, religious housewives are so enamored with large, painted, ceramic cocks is as bizarre as it is hilariously innuendoed).
The Hobby Lobby that we all know today is a lot different from the one I started working for in March of 2000. Their staunch conservatism seems to have grown with the rise of the Neo-Con after September 11th. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture of yours truly dressed up for a Halloween contest sponsored by the Christian organization sometime around 2001:
As you can see, that picture was taken in the frame shop. I worked all day like that. I won a $50 gift certificate from my store (with which I bought a Dremel tool). There was probably spooky music playing over the loud speakers. People forget that Hobby Lobby used to build up Halloween as much as everybody else. There is a lot of money in it. I guess that there is more money in being Christian…at least as a facade. Can you imagine walking into Hobby Lobby now, hearing “Monster Mash” on the intercom, and picking up your frame order from a kid dressed like that? Hah!
-So what about the bad?
The year that I quit, 2010, I got screwed out of three weeks of vacation time. That’s nearly $1,500. I didn’t lose the money because I quit. I quit partly because I lost the money. Though, to be honest, I probably made it back in all the free mats I cut for myself throughout the years.
Insurance? That’s the big deal right? Well, I wouldn’t know. When I needed health insurance Hobby Lobby wouldn’t provide it for me. Here’s the thing: You have to apply for health insurance within 3 months of being made full-time or you’re shit out of luck. When I first went full-time I was still covered by my parents’ much better and free insurance. When I came of age, I attempted to apply for insurance but couldn’t. The only course of action I could take was to drop down to part-time for six months, losing all of my accrued vacation and sick pay as a result, not to mention the hours, and then get rehired as a full-time employee way down the road. Convoluted? You bet. Maybe that wasn’t company policy, but those were the options provided to me by my supervisors…and we weren’t as literate about health care back then as we are all now.
In the end, I quit to finish my college degree and pursue my love of history. I took my wife, best friend, and framing skill with me. I still have and cherish all three. These days I don’t have a job history-ing but I’ve become a little bit of competition for Hobby Lobby. I’m not a fan of their weird, pseudo-Christian values or Neo-Con image, but encourage people to steer clear of Hobby Lobby for the same reason I despise Wal-Mart and the like. Shop local. Vote with your dollars.