I will always be thankful for having a variety of work experiences in my past. (Hmm. I’m thankful now. I can’t honestly say that I was thankful during the time I had these various jobs.)
I learned much through all of those experiences. Much more than I realized at the time. Years later, I often see how God has used those work experiences in a variety of ways. These are the jobs I had in earlier years:
1. A paper route for The Dallas Morning News. My route consisted of four long streets in Dallas. That meant getting out of bed by 4:00 AM and on my bike within a few minutes. On Sundays, the papers were so large that my mom drove me, folding these papers while I threw them from house to house (the newspapers had to be on the porch in those days). In the early morning hours, I began to notice much about these houses. Different smells. Who had a dog. Whose lawn was manicured and who didn’t really have a lawn.
2. I worked for several years at a fast food restaurant. It was a Jack-in-the-Box. Drive through only. However, it was on a major street in Dallas. I worked nights and often throughout the night. This was my first job in which I dealt with people — lots of them. This was often dirty work. I remember coming home at nights reeking of grease from the deep fryers.
3. After I graduated from high school, I worked at Manor Bakery one summer. This was the hardest job I ever had. (This was a huge bakery. Bread, rolls, buns that would be distributed to grocery stores and restaurants throughout north Texas.) My job was working next to a huge bun oven. A larger conveyor belt would take hundreds of buns through this oven at one time. The buns would come out of the oven and huge suction cups would lift them out the pans and drop them onto another belt. I would then grab the pans that had just come out of the oven. It was a hot job in the Texas summer. I have memories of lots of burns that summer.
4. I worked for a couple of years for Hunt Oil Company in downtown Dallas. Worked on the 27th floor of the First National Bank Building. I worked in the file room shuffling files to this or that office. Taking files to another floor. Occasionally I would be sent to find a file in the archives, which was four or five blocks away. Nice. I would get there after morning classes and work the rest of the afternoon. I worked with a middle-aged, single parent who lived in Oak Cliff. She had no car and was totally dependent on the bus to get her wherever she wanted to go. She had two dresses. A blue and a red one, which she wore to work on alternate days.
5. For several years, I worked for United Parcel Service. Loading trucks. Unloading trucks. Driving and delivering. This was a good job. I began working there my last two years of college. I worked nights again. I have a lot of memories of conversations with the managers. These were often people from other places who had been sent to work in Dallas from places like New Jersey, Salt Lake City, and Denver. I begin to notice that some of these people had now been through divorces and affairs. For some, work seemed to be the center of their world. It wasn’t that they loved their jobs. Rather, it seemed to be the absence of any other center.
No doubt you have had your own experiences. You’ve had jobs maybe similar or quite different from these. For me, these were valuable. Now at the time, it didn’t seem that way. Looking back, however, I can see how God has used some of these experiences in my life to help me connect with a variety of people. Yet, in some ways it doesn’t really matter whether or not I see how these experiences have been useful. (Their value is not based on my comprehension of their value.) What matters is that I trust that God works through my history and through my present situation.
What about you? Is there any particular job you’ve had in the past for which you are especially thankful now?