Saturday, May 31, 2014

What's a Job? by Linden Malki

Recently, I was talking to a young man who just graduated from college. His response to my question as to what he was doing next, was: Find a job. What do you want to do? Make a lot of money!!  Then I asked my standard question: What can you do that is worth someone paying you for it? Turns out his concept of the ideal job was working at a gym so he could work out. Unfortunately, I suspect that that's not what the staff does all day.

Reminded me a little bit about my first job, for which I realize I'd been "interviewing" for since I was 5. I've always been a book person, so the librarian at the small branch library five blocks from our house saw a lot of me. She was one of my first mentors--took an interest in me and recommended things she thought I would like to, and things I should, read. She also got me a job as a "page"--the lowest form of life in the library world. I thought it would be great to be around books--but found out that the pages don't get to read on the job. They're there to put the books back when people return them, mend them as necessary. and generally to keep them in order. I was fortunate in working at a very small branch, without any more staff than the librarian and a part-time page, because I got to do other things, that were technically above my pay grade (which was at the bottom of the system as well). I'll never forget one patron who asked my boss for a specific book, and she said that the page would help him find it. So he came to me and said "You're the page? When do you get to be a whole book?"

What could I do that was worth the Spokane Public Library system paying me? I learned to alphabetize and put away books efficiently,  became familiar with the standard library cataloging system, answered the phone and generally learned enough to be helpful.(Once in a great while I will find myself answering a phone "North Monroe Library".) I learned enough to get a job at the college library when I went off to college, and spent a summer and several Christmas breaks in the catalog department of the Seattle Public Library. Later, when I found myself working with John, I realized  that filing systems and cataloging systems were pretty similar even when what was being filed and cataloged and organized and shelved where they could be found was different. Later, my son David wangled his way into a job at an art supply store, and said that selling a tube of paint was just like selling a spark plug except for what was actually in the box.

I think one of the valuable things I learned was learning how to work. One friend seems to miss a lot of work, and then complains that he isn't making much money. His excuse: "I lost my mojo."  Somehow that's not something I tell myself when I get up in the morning--I go to work, whether I happen to feel like it or not. The bottom line: you're not worth anything to anybody when you're not there. If someone is there, and willing and able to learn, I can teach them what they need to be worth something.

We were created to work; to cooperate with God in taking care of His creation. Even in Eden, Adam was given a job. There is a story of a man showing off his garden; a visitor commented on the beauty of God's work. The gardener replied: "You should have seen it when He was doing it by Himself!" God deliberately left work for us to do!

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