His calm voice sounded kind, but his words surprised me.
“We’re spending too much and not bringing in enough. I think we need you to start working.”
My husband was right, mostly, but the hardest part of his comment was that I already feel like I work. I wish my writing provided a full-time, regular income, but while keeping up a blog and writing a book pushes me forward, neither are helping our bottom line at the moment.
I countered with logic. “I’m happy to work a conventional job, but don’t you think we could just cut some corners and spend less?”
“Maybe a little, but I want to go out to lunch with friends after church. And go to family camp in the summers. And go to a concert here and there. And… and… and.…”
I hid my rolling eyes. “I do too, but we sound like spoiled rich gringos trying to live the American dream. How’s this going to look? We’re fresh off the mission field!”
He stared at me so I stopped whining and started brainstorming.
“Should I work at Trader Joe’s? Might get a food discount. Or I could be a writer for Trader Joe’s! Ooo, that would be rad. Have you read their Fearless Flyer? It’s hilarious. Their snark and double-entendres are right up my alley.”
He shifted gears, unamused. “You should start a decluttering and organizational business.”
“Yeah, I’ve thought about that, but the amount of jet fuel I need to start feels daunting. I don’t love asking friends and family for help, and if I’m giving them discounts in exchange for recommendations and endorsements, I wouldn’t be making much money for a while. Plus, I don’t want to fly solo—I want a business partner.”
Excuses piled so I shifted gears too and continued to mull. A couple months later I contacted an acquaintance who owns a catering company.
Fall is her busiest wedding season and December brings a crazy amount of corporate Christmas parties, sometimes seven days in a row, so she gladly took me on.
My husband looked skeptical.
“Sure you want to do this with your back? On your feet all day?”
“I waitressed for six years and I go for lots of walks—I’ll be fine.”
“This isn’t exactly a career. Don’t you want to do the decluttering and organizational thing?”
“You asked me to get a job. I’m just trying this out for a few months during her busy season.”
We discussed the pros and cons and finally agreed catering would bring faster money at the moment.
Off I went in search of black shoes, a white dress shirt, and black pants.
My first event sat on the calendar, mocking me. Nerves jiggled while I anticipated how the night might go. Confidence rose and fell while I self-talked my way through the day.
It’s not biochem, Carrie. Offer them an appetizer, hand them a napkin, hold still and smile.
Yes, but I haven’t worked a conventional job for almost two decades.
You’ve organized people’s closets and pantries, taught seminars, written articles, and edited websites.
I mean jobs where I put on a uniform, clock in, keep strangers happy and clock out. What if I forget I don’t know the bride or groom and start chatting with the guests?
Event #1 – Small Wedding in Wine Country
I donned my new penguin look, left our empty house, and drove away alone.
The urge to text a couple people at stoplights crossed my mind, but I felt foolish. What would I say?
“Nervous! Going back to work for the first time in 17 years….”
“Pray for me! First regular job since 2001….”
“Cali is pricey, so off to work I go….”
I resisted for fear of sounding wimpy, looking for attention. What if they text back, “You’re gonna be great!” but are actually thinking,
“Welcome to my life.”
Or, “It’s about time.”
Or, “Good luck, rookie.”
1st Assignment: clean the kitchen counters at the venue.
Easy peasy. Do it every day. No sweat.
2nd Assignment: help prep the appetizers.
I can do that. I don’t serve bruschetta or meatball sliders at home, but I totally could.
3rd Assignment: organize rolls.
Bring it on, Dough Boy.
And then it was time. I balanced a serving board with slippery crusty bread, fanned a pile of black cocktail napkins, and walked toward the crowd of hungry guests.
“Bruschetta on a toasted baguette?”
“Would you like some bruschetta?”
Everyone seemed happy to see
me food. Most thanked me. Until I passed one guy and all I heard was, “Hey!”
And another guy who yelled, “Bruschetta!”
Humility comes in super handy when you’re working in customer service.
Is your job thankless?
- If you’re feeding, burping and changing a baby, yes.
- If you’re raising teens, probably.
- If you’re helping ailing parents, maybe.
Why do you think humans like to be thanked? It sounds fabulous in our ears, but is that why we work hard?
Event #2 – Large Wedding w/Drizzle & Mud
The mother of the bride asked female servers to wear black flats—no tennis shoes.
I’m not sure if that’s an illegal request, but clearly, she doesn’t work on her feet.
I donned my same penguin look and left the house at 1:15 with lipstick, black boots, fresh hair and a pep in my step, ready to bring home the pesos.
Eight hours later my feet hated me. Like, passionately.
Though I couldn’t remember the verse, much less where it was found, I caught myself silently repeating parts of Colossians 3 while tipped over a trash can, scraping 180 plates of wasted food and saliva.
“… as unto the Lord.”
“… working for God, not man.”
“… do your best.”
Spin the clock to 11:15. I walked back through our door with flat hair, no lipstick, and foot bones that seemed to smack the concrete with every painful step.
Minus drive time, that’s nine hours of setting, prepping, serving, smiling, pouring, scooping, wiping, hustling, gathering, walking, tossing, lifting, scraping, washing and drying.
Not exactly like sitting in a chair, sipping tea and typing.
I climbed on our bathroom counter, soaked my piggies in salted hot water and fell into bed, feeling 92 and slightly discouraged.
How come nobody else’s feet ached?
Should I keep doing this?
Maybe a pedometer would at least give me a sense of accomplishment.
Who Do You Work For?
I’ve read other versions of these verses so much I barely pause to absorb the meaning. The Message version hits me with a different perspective:
“Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”
Colossians 3:23-25 (MSG)
I feel fortunate to have stayed home while my kids were little. And though I’m grateful to have a flexible job, humility stares me down, for my new reality includes the following:
- I am a servant.
- My new boss is 17 years younger than I.
- Most people don’t acknowledge hired help.
Is someone asking you to try something new?
Are you stuck in a challenging job?
If you’re a Christian, are you working from the heart for your real Boss? I’m trying! If you are too, tell me in the comments.