Have you ever just taken a moment and thought about how fortunate you are? One of those times where the North Star is beaming down directly on you and everyone around smiles your way and for a little while everything seems right in your world?
Well, tonight I had such an epiphany.
I don’t write about my new work often, partly because there’s not much to write about; I rarely have much interaction with customers. But also I don’t write because I like my job and don’t want to jinx myself. And I guess calling it new after a year and a half is ridiculous, but it’s hard to not think of it that way.
When I came onboard, I was unsure. I was scared as a rabbit looking at a pack of coyotes. I didn’t know anybody, I was in a part of town I didn’t frequent, and I was out of my comfort zone working in an office environment. But I didn’t quit, even though I wanted to. I came back every day because I’d made my mind up to, and because it felt like it would be a good gig if I could ever get used to it. I was terrified of the guys, they were all big and kinda scary looking with their tattoos, cigarettes, beards, and low, gravelly voices. They drove trucks that always needed a belt, a paint job, or a tune up. Maybe all three. They used crowbars, saws-alls, and jackhammers like most men use a pocket knife. They swung into skid steers and tore around the yard like the cows were out. They weren’t scared, and oftentimes the only thing I heard was “Yes ma’am”. One day it was raining as the crews returned. I was watching them out the window over my desk, amazed. They were unloading their truck, throwing cardboard and trash in the dumpster, putting extra material back where it came from, rolling the generator and other tools back to the container. It was pouring rain, but you couldn’t tell by watching them. It never affected them in the slightest as it dripped off their caps. They weren’t moving any faster; they weren’t bothering to stop and wipe it off their faces. They simply kept on, like it was a sunny 70° day. I’ll never forget it.
I soon came to learn they just weren’t big talkers- they were a soft spoken lot. They liked working outside, with their hands, where they don’t have to have a lot of interaction with people and could be left alone to do the job at hand. They liked me because I smiled at them and called them at two o’clock to make sure they were still alive and not dead in a ditch.
They have families, which amazes me because who are these guys when I’m not around? How do these stoic, silent men even meet women? Are they out living it up on Friday night? Nope. They’re working on their daughter’s car, or they’re working on updating their own homes, or they’re taking their kids to the arcade, or they’re grilling ribs and maybe building a bonfire. They’re sitting in a hard pew, second from the back on Sunday morning, and going to their mom’s house after to fix a leaky faucet and eat their payment in fried chicken and deviled eggs.
I didn’t expect to love them every one.
There’s a Yankee, there’s a bunch of good ole boys, there’s a Florida gator. The welder is from the flatlands of Middle Tennessee, and one from India that has a sizeable slice of my heart. There’s another girl at our branch in Knoxville who has become a confidante and true friend. The estimator is a trusted advisor and my very most favorite person in this world to aggravate to the point that he contemplates suicide.
It kind of blindsided me how much I would grow to love my position and role with this family owned business.
Tonight was our Christmas party.
I loved Co-op. I did. I loved seeing everybody’s kids, and their husbands once a year, and all of us in nice clothes and breaking bread together. I loved when we played games and when we just had a prize raffle, and the year I went onstage and sang. I loved our prayer and the reading of scripture and taking everybody’s picture. And I miss that family.
But now I have this family, and while they’re different, they’re the same. We’re all just making it, and we get together and see the spouses once a year and watch the kids grow. I’m fortunate to work for a family that believes in God, and the spirit of Christmas, and giving from the heart. I’m fortunate that they make time for us to all get together apart from work and share a few hours, all of our families coming together to socialize and eat and watch the kids run around and do flips in the middle of the floor.
Not everyone is this blessed. Not everyone works for a company that gives their employees a Christmas party and provide a bonus and make the effort and spend a tidy sum of the profits from the year just. For. Us.
So, while work isn’t always easy, or fun, or the place we long to be, we have this night. We had a few hours to be together and enjoy each other’s company and stand side by side and grin.
And I’m sorry I didn’t take a single picture. I wish I had at least gotten one of Taj’s shoes.