Saturday, September 4, 2021

Now Hiring

Labor Day weekend is an appropriate time to think back on jobs I have endured and embraced over the decades. I invite your comments about great work experiences or those from which you walked away, as well.

My shortest official job was 5 hours. It was a summer job during college years. The pay and hours seemed attractive. So by sunrise a friend and I were transported to the job site. We began scraping stones off of a previously sealed flat roof. It was being resurfaced and the stones reused. We used long handled scraping tools and a great deal of muscle to get the job accomplished. It was slow, tedious work. The brown cotton jersey gloves offered minimal protection, but that was what we were told to bring. The morning humidity rose with the sun. Sweat, which in my life has always been abundant was streaming off my forehead and down my back. My hands were hurting and my clothing was drenched. As my friend and I ate our scant lunches in the air conditioned comfort of the school on which we were working, the decision was made to walk back to the roofing company's parking lot. 

A person stopped along the road to ask if we needed a ride. Being blistered, hot, hungry, smelling of sweat, and defeated it did not matter to either of us that the driver was stoned. I never received a paycheck for the hours worked. And I did not care!

Bailing hay and straw for a neighbor, shoveling livestock manure, night shift sanitation at a meat processing plant, adjunct educator on middle, high school, and community college levels, summer park staff, addiction treatment center chaplain, barista, grocery store orientation trainer, emergency medical technician, hospice + healthcare chaplain, educator/facilitator for a multi-county domestic abuse treatment program, race director for an endurance event organization, farm crisis responder/advocate, and window washer are jobs that have dotted the decades providing tax documents. 

If you have read posts from the past months, you realize my primary occupation for decades has been pastoral care. As of now I have served 16 congregations in various capacities. It is a vocation of flexibility, diversity, and relationships. In many ways it has been hard to specifically define. I have the luxury to adapt it to fit my situation. At times flexibility is a curse. Overall, the vocation has served me well. It has been more than a job. It has allowed for creativity. It has stimulated my wanderlust. It has allowed me to never settle into a mind/spirit numbing routine. 

As I hear the recent rancor about lazy people getting too much money from unemployment, I cringe. A person I know posted their disgust on social media about not getting a chalupa at 7pm due to a worker shortage at Taco Bell. The post stated how awful it is that people do not see the value of a job. Teenagers should quit living off of their parents, as well. It seems as if work is now a transactional enterprise. Other people should work so I can benefit and do so at minimum pay. If my day is inconvenienced it is due to the laziness of others. I have every right to expect great customer service even as I view the worker as inferior to me. When did work lose its respect and dignity? I have done things for a paycheck. Such jobs serve a purpose, but they do not lead to long-term fulfillment. What is wrong with taking time to investigate what fills our being and not just our wallets? I view labor and vocation as relational more than transactional. We all have diverse interests, skills which ebb and flow, and dreams waiting to be explored. Labor is a part of life, but is does not define life. Work IS NOT life!

I often refer to this Hebrew wisdom from the book of Ecclesiastes, "So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun."  (8,15  NIV)

Again, I welcome your comments about your work experiences. If you want to view my bi-weekly YouTube videos click on the link.  Thank you for reading!

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