Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Grocery Lessons

You remember those old posters that said "Everything I needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten?"

I've always been kinda partial to the one that said "Everything I needed to learn, I learned from Star Trek", but that's probably just the geek in me speaking.
But I know that I learned at lot during my high school years of working at Canada Safeway, and it's funny how God brings memories of those days to mind every now and then, and how it provokes my thinking about the present.

It was a Wednesday evening shift, and Wednesdays were typically not as busy as other days of the week, with lower customer numbers, and no semi-truck to be unloaded. My two buddies and I had worked diligently in the early part of our shift, and we had actually finished about 98% of the store-closing tasks that were required, and we still had a couple of hours left before the store closed.

We were standing around in the back room, laughing and talking, when our manager strode briskly through the doors. "Finished for the night, gentlemen?" he asked, in his usual abrupt and business-like manner.

Not sensing for a second our imminent and implied doom, we cheerfully replied, "Hey, just look! We've got everything finished already -- just a couple of minor bits that we can't do till the store actually closes!" We were naively self-congratulatory, and for some inexplicable reason seemed to believe that our manager would share our joy.

He said nothing for a moment, only looking back and forth at the three of us, hands on his hips. "Come with me," he finally said, and led us away like lambs to the slaughter.

We all ended up with the dregs of possible store duties. I can't remember what the other two penitents ended up doing, but I spent the next two hours in the milk freezer, scraping up the spilled (aged, rotten, and extremely odourous) milk that had congealed on the floor in the back freezer.

After that night, we suddenly discovered that -- if we'd only look around -- there was always something else that we could be working on, and it would consistently be much more enjoyable than scraping the floor of the milk freezer.

Our mananger had never said a word to us, beyond giving us our new duties. He never had to explain the lesson. It was immediately obvious: there's always something else to do. Just look around. Be observant. Lift up your eyes from your own small little world, and see what else needs to be done.
Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35)

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