Throughout the world, most people work hours upon hours a day in physically demanding jobs. This is a fact that many people in our culture take for granted, and I was blissfully one of them. I remember when I first got my license. I equate that moment, of feeling that little piece of square plastic in my hand, that beautiful, GORGEOUS, rectangular piece of plastic, with my first moment of freedom, my wheels being the magic tool to getting out of the house and away from the parents.
The longer I had my license, however, the more acquainted I became with the
road, and the more acquainted I became with the gas pump. I was burning pavement, I was burning fuel, but I was only burning my parent’s money. My junior year of high school began, and I kept going out, and kept spending money. My parents began complaining. They brought up a disgusting three letter word. A “job.” I applied to local gift shop and was hired on the spot. It worked me a grueling six hours a week, and filled my wallet with a fat $29.35 a week. Boy, was I was living the high life. I left the job over the summer and I was unemployed again as the stresses of senior year confronted me.
It didn’t help that my parents were mumbling under their breath that I needed to find a job soon.I applied to numerous places, but I was pretty unsuccessful. This was different for me. I had been spoiled by being hired immediately at both jobs. I learned that a job was not so easy to get. A sandwich store hired me. I’ll take inspiration from the Domino’s oven baked sandwich commercials and I’ll call this store Submart. I was not excited about working at Submart, not excited about the uniform, and not excited about the meager pay. But I found I learned patience as I constructed the sandwiches of picky customers. I learned perseverance after a bag full of garbage spilled on the freshly mopped floor. I learned how to cook bread after burning dozens of subs dozens of times. I learned that Lysol is a Godsend. Besides the long shifts, the constant multi-tasking, the low wage and the management treating the staff unfairly, I decided that the pay was not worth crummy grades or frequent backaches. I quit once I had another job locked in.
My experience was grueling. But I miss it, in a strange way. I always felt accomplished when I turned off the lights to the store each night. Whenever I pass a Submart, I always remember my days as a sandwich maker, as a garbage girl, as a cook, a dishwasher, a cleaning lady, and as a saleswoman. There was something about that chaos that made me focus on strength, patience and kindness even when kindness was not always easy .It may be cliché, but I believe only work that tests you makes you stronger.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.