I’ve been working for a temporary employment agency since the end of June as I continue my search for permanent employment in a field related to my degree. In that time I’ve been privileged to work in a wide variety of settings and do an interesting array of jobs.
Next week is National Temporary Employee Week (or possibly September is National Temporary Employee Month, I’m not really sure). Imagine my surprise when the branch office of the company I work for called me up this afternoon to let me know that they had selected me as their employee of the year. I was both pleased and shocked, and they will be featuring an article about me in their newsletter next week. (No, this is not an article about how great a worker I am. I’m actually driving toward a point.)
Later, my surprise grew as I thought about this honor. One of the primary reasons they gave me for awarding me this honor, despite my short time of employment with the company, was my willingness to take nearly any assignment (such as this third shift assignment I have had
all this week) and my availability to take said assignments. The way I’ve always looked at it is that I haven’t had much of a choice. The bills don’t stop coming in the mail and to turn down
an assignment seems like asking for financial trouble. Yet, the implication is that many temps turn down assignments until the one that appeals to them turns up. My thought is that beggars can’t afford to be choosers, but it seems that the idea of most people is that beggars not only want to be choosers but that they can afford to be choosers and will take only those jobs that seem best. We are a pampered and spoiled society when we can ‘afford’ to put off paying
bills (typically by going further into debt) just so we can work the sorts of jobs that either won’t be inconvenient or that have only the level of pay that we want. Personally, I would rather take any work that comes available to me, however inconvenient, in order to pay my bills and provide for my family. And apparently it is that mindset that gets an individual an Employee of the Year award. It is actually kind of sad that being willing to work is what makes a
Dear Lonely Girl,
I saw you often around campus. It was hard to miss you, the campus and student body being small enough that every face was familiar, even if it was impossible to learn everyone’s names — and I’m ashamed that I never learned yours.
You were always walking by yourself, you always took your meals alone, sitting at least several seats away from the nearest group, though you chose a table by yourself when you could. You never seemed to hang out with anyone, you never seemed to have friends. You never smiled that I saw, never laughed at a joke because there was never anyone at your side to deliver the punchline. I wondered often if you even had any friends, if you somehow got through your four years without ever making a single personal contact. It crossed my mind a time or three that maybe it would be Christ-like to establish a friendship with you.
But I never did. You weren’t attractive to me in any way. Physically, you were homely. Your personality seemed likewise as attractive. It would cost me discomfort and sacrifice to go out
of my way to introduce myself to you, and I didn’t want to disrupt my finely established routine. I justified it by telling myself that I just didn’t have the time, that my classes were keeping
me too busy, that my inner circle of friends needed me too much in order to sacrifice any of my time and attention on someone outside my usual circle of activity. Deep down, though, I knew better. I knew I was just making excuses. Honestly, I was afraid, and I considered you to be beneath me. This is a mistake that I now regret.
I wonder how much it would have changed your life if someone had shown you some grace. I wonder how many other students ever went out of their way to befriend you. I wonder a lot of things about you and where you are now and how you are doing. I wonder if you are happy and if you have any more friends now than you did then. I wonder, if given the opportunity to go back and do it again with the knowledge I now have, if I would have done it any differently. I
can only hope that I have grown and changed for the better, that I will not make the same mistake again with the next person. Christ loved the worst sinners of his day just as much as he loved the socially acceptable. Why should I not be able to extend the simplest of courtesies to someone like you, a presumably normal human being who is no better or worse than me?
Given the opportunity to meet you in person, I hope I will have the courage to walk up to you and introduce myself. It won’t make up for having not done so in college, but what was done wrong before does not have to remain so.
Your friend (hopefully)
In addition to running Open Dialogue, I’m also a moderator on another forum. Occasionally, my duties involve resolving various bits of unpleasantness, and today was just such a day. Ultimately, I ended up locking a thread due to some nasty flaming between a handful of members and sending private messages (PMs) to said individuals cautioning against further behavior of the kind they displayed today. The fellow who instigated the whole fiasco responded saying that people just “don’t know when it is a joke.”
This incident got me thinking anew about the nature of joking and when joking might be pushing things too far. I realized that I had essentially already written
about this last night, voicing the general principle that should probably apply here, as well. In my opinion, a joke is only a joke when all parties involved can enjoy it and have fun with it. When even one individual finds the joke offensive or is uncomfortable as a result of the joke, then joke ceases to be a joke because it ceases to be completely funny. If everyone involved cannot enjoy the joke, then it probably should not be told or enacted. It seems unfair to force someone to endure something that they do not find funny or humorous.
Some guidelines that I myself use (or at least try to) when determining whether or not to follow through with a joke:
- If there is even a question as to whether or not someone will enjoy the joke, I do not even begin it.
- If it is obvious that my joke is making someone uncomfortable, I quit immediately and apologize to the offended party.
- If I find out afterward that my joke offended someone, I seek out that person to apologize and make restitution.
- In the rare instance that I am unsure exactly what was offensive,
I seek to find out what that was and make the effort to repair or avoid
that element or joke in the future.
There are biblical principles for this, foremost seeking to avoid causing others to stumble:
19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of GodÃ¢â‚¬â€ 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own
good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Sometimes I wish everyone would look out for the best interests of everyone else. It sure would make the world a better place.
Ever feel like you’re trapped in a particular mood or attitude and can’t get out of it? Well, sometimes I think it’s all in your head. Literally. For instance, this evening I found myself feeling irritable and cranky (still do, in fact). It was getting to the point where I was starting to get snippy with my wife, and I knew I didn’t want to do that. I walked out of the room for a moment to get a grip over myself before coming back and trying to act civilly. I even forced myself to make a joke. And the funniest thing happened — I found myself mood actually changing for the better. I had made the decision to behave better, I forced myself to actually do so (even though I didn’t feel like it), and ultimately I found my mood shifting to match the behavior.
And of course, now I’m reminded of the social psychology principle that states that people’s attitudes tend to actually shift toward their behaviors and not the other way around. In my own Christian walk, I have often forced myself to do those things that I knew I was supposed to do, even when I didn’t feel like it. And 99% of the time, I quickly found my attitude shifting to match. (That last 1% of the time was when I was just bound and determined to
Moral of the story: If you want to get out of that slump, try doing what you’re supposed to do anyway. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at the result.