I got a new job.
Now, when arriving in Waco back in August, I tried to think hard about what I’d like to spend my time as a wage earner doing. I came up with books… and coffee shops. And long-haul truck driving, but that might’ve caused parental disownership or something.
So I quickly (i.e., day I got back) put in applications at both sorts of places at the same time. Barnes and Noble hired me first and hired me quick, so I let the other apps lie fallow. And I was content to work shelving magazines and running a cash register for a couple of months.
(I was NOT content to wear business casual clothes every day, however, so I subtly decided to stick it to the Man by wearing polyester pants and thusly carving out my own offbeat style niche. Then I realized that polyester pants were uncomfortable, which is probably why the whole sexual revolution went down in the ’70’s or something. People were probably finding all sorts of excuses to take those bad boys off.)
But about a month ago, a coffee shop called, saying they were hiring. I’d researched ’em pretty well, and while the bookstore was good in and of itself, this seemed like it might just be an even better fit. And there’d be free coffee. Not to mention that I could downgrade to just khakis, or shorts, even. That was a plus.
So I signed up, said a tearful farewell to bookselling (and, honestly, a great management team and coworkers), and moved over to the land of what Stan Ward calls “legal stimulants.”
It’s been rad. I get to start my day before the sun starts his at times, but that also just means I get to come home at 11:00 and nap. (Suckers!)
But I also get minimum wage. Just like the last job. Which is still more than I’ve ever earned hourly at any previous point in life (see: Christian summer camp and college work-study). But still- you got to, I don’t know, keep the belt a little tighter on that sort of income.
I can hold down an apartment. I can eat food. I can afford the occasional new book of interest, though I visit the library more often these days. But I have gone from middle-class comfort to, well, probably what the majority of my fellow countrymen are used to. Working hard, and NOT getting glamorous dividends and rewards for it.
This is not a complaint. This is a blessing. Before this year, I was pretty sure I was unmaterialistic because I shopped at Goodwill, rather than the mall. But that’s back when I spent extraneous money on clothes (freaking polyester pants!). Now, I feel bummed if I don’t spend x amount of money on iTunes every month. What in the world?
On particularly bad days, there’s a bit of an instinct to feel like a the biblical character of yore, one whose house got blown down and his cows torn up. Who got boils on his skin and picked ’em with pottery. Who was told to curse God and die. He had a comfy life, then quickly, kaput! All he had left were his bones and his faith. But if I’m honest with myself, I got a lot more than that.
I am seeing, on one hand, how spoiled I am, if my life is dependent on the ability to point-and-buy for my comfort and satisfaction. I am, on the other, seeing how blessed I have been, and would hope to be again, with a little extra margin to do things with.
Most of all, however, I am forced to seek the face of Christ for both my joy, and my material need. And that’s never a bad thing. If I can’t escape into a new purchase for some momentary joy, makes sense that I become that much more wide open to live my life influenced by a heavenly treasure.
I even wonder if this would help me become more generous. If I learn to live with just what I need, can I freely give away the extra? Or even tithe, which is a discipline I am learning to enjoy.
Praise God that I didn’t launch into cushy-ness. Today, I am a real person, working a job that doesn’t make extra bank, and I am a small and minor part of a large and persistent workforce.
Thusly he gets bigger. And in God’s economy, the bigger he is, the better the Job gets.