Former Cosby Show star Geoffrey Owens went on Good Morning America Tuesday—while wearing his Trader Joe's name tag—to talk about what it was like to be job-shamed for his work at the New Jersey grocery store. Owens, 57, says he worked at Trader Joe's for 15 months while continuing to work in the entertainment industry (he quit after the photos of him working there went viral, but the store says he can come back whenever he likes). He says shoppers recognized him every day, but were "cool" about it. When photos of him bagging groceries were published online, however, "I was really devastated," he says, "but the period of devastation was so short. My wife and I started to read these responses from literally all over the world. Fortunately, the shame part didn't last very long" as messages of support poured in.
"I'm more of a celebrity now than when I actually was a celebrity," he joked. He added that there has been "interest" in him due to all the headlines, but he wouldn't feel comfortable taking a job thanks to this attention. The attention will pass, he notes, "but I hope what doesn't pass is this ... 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 re-evaluation of what it means to work, and a re-evaluation 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. ... Every job is worthwhile and valuable, and if we have kind of a rethinking about that because of what's happened to me, that would be great."