Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I remember my first job.

The local Farmer's Market needed somebody to help set up the tables, sweep up messes, and clear up. The Market was held in the arena (and what else are you going to do with an arena in the summer?). I was very unclear on who my boss actually was, and usually spent most of the day running around doing whatever anybody asked me to. I became very good at looking busy so no one would bother me, a valuable work skill that has helped me greatly over the years! At the end of the day, I'd help fold up the tables and put them away, and then I'd get to sweep the cement arena floor. Ever watched a Zamboni clean the ice at a hockey game? It takes awhile, doesn't it? Well, it takes even longer when it's just you and a dust mop.

This memory resurfaced the other night as I was closing the coffee shop where I work. I had already swept, and was running the mop over the floor, and it hit me. At 36, I'm still cleaning floors. I find this kind of humiliating thought very comforting, actually. There is no danger of me thinking more highly of myself than I ought. If somebody needs my help, hopefully I'll be humble enough to just do whatever needs doing.

It's funny. When I started writing this post, I had every intention of mocking my first job, remembering it with disdain. But this very moment I begin to realize that maybe I did learn something valuable as I dry-mopped that huge arena--and here it is: I AM NOT WHAT I DO. There is freedom in that.