Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lessons learned from a lifetime of work

I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of different types of work during my life. Of course, if you’ve been in the workforce over 45 years, this is not saying a lot. Recently I had the occasion to reflect on some of the life lessons I’ve learned from my work experiences. Here are a not-so-dirty dozen of them.

1. Furniture store, age 15-16. Job – keep the store clean, polish the wood furniture, and assist with deliveries. Primary lesson learned – one should have his driver's license before making deliveries in the company truck. Or have some pull with the police department.

2. Independent grocery story, age 17. Job – assist in the meat department, bagging whole fryers, packaging and pricing cuts of meat, slicing ham and turkey rolls. Primary lesson learned – pay attention at the slicer, especially if a cute girl is in the aisle in front of the meat department window. If I had paid attention, I’d still have the tip of my left index finger.

3. Large, national grocery store, age 19-20. Job – work in the produce department. Primary lesson learned – If your mouth is large enough you can get almost two dozen grapes in there without choking or swallowing. (You really don't want to know.)

4. Electrolux, age 19-20. Job – sell vacuum sweepers door to door. Primary lesson learned – Be careful where you try to demonstrate your sweeper’s power. Small objects, such as fine jewelry, are easily sucked up.

5. Tobacco farm, age 15-17. Job – cutting, housing, and stripping tobacco. Primary lesson learned – being covered in dirt and goo from wet tobacco plants is not a deterrent to smoking. Chewing maybe.

6. Shoe salesman, national department store, age 18-19. Job – assist customers in trying on and purchasing shoes. Primary lesson learned – I’m not a “foot” man.

7. Fast food restaurant. Job – manage the operations from 4-close. Primary lesson learned – grease is hot.

8. Life insurance company, age 22-23. Job – sell and service life insurance. Primary lesson learned – people shy away from salesmen like they’re lepers. Even family members and friends.

9. Pipeline construction, age 22-23. Job – lay gas, water, and sewer lines. Primary lesson learned – when using non-electric blasting caps, leave enough fuse so that, after yelling “Fire in the hole!” you have enough time to run and get behind something before things begin to explode.

10. US Army, age 20-23. Job – command troops in combat. Primary lesson learned – if you treat people right they’ll get your back, and do what’s right. And, it does indeed roll downhill.

11. Investment advisor, age 59. Job – help clients make investment decisions. Primary lesson learned – to do this job well, you must be comfortable handling other people’s money.

12. Christian minister, ages 18-59. Job – lead worship, direct educational and discipleship ministries, administer the day to day affairs of churches. Primary lesson learned – there is no higher calling than making a positive difference in people’s lives, especially when it has eternal significance.

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