Lessons from Jeffrey R.
I work in the food court at Costco. I had thought me rid of this temporary part-time nightmare last summer when I said goodbye to my co-workers and fled for Utah. In light of our economy, such was not the case.
However, I am not so unlucky. I only work this job for just under three weeks, whereas, some poor saps have been on the job for years and years, and it looks as though they may continue packaging hot dogs, catching pizzas from the oven, and rolling churros for the rest of their lives.
In the little time that I have worked, though, I have already begun to hate humanity. Today being the Sabbath, I congratulate and thank all of you who avoid shopping on Sundays. I was scheduled to work today. And being promised that it would be the only Sunday I would have to commit to for my duration in the food court, I agreed. Let me say, Sundays are horrible, disgustingly busy days for grocery shopping. While many of us routinely shop on Saturday to get ready for Sunday, the rest of the world operates one day later. Thus, Costco is always buzzing, in the parking lot, in the deli, in the grocery aisles, in the checkout lines, and ultimately--the food court.
I arrived with significant trepidation, my hand shaking as I scanned my ID card to clock in. Upon entering the side door to the familiar smell of condiments, chemicals and corroded pans, I sensed greed in the air. The morning crew bade us cheery farewells as they skipped away to freedom and I arrived at the front of the kitchen to confront a long line of eager faces, searching eyes, watering mouths and twitching fingers. For hours on end, I rushed from one end of the kitchen to the other, cutting pizzas, dropping bags of hot dogs and polish dogs, filling smoothie cups, mocha cups, sundae cups, yogurt cups of chocolate, vanilla or swirl. I simultaneously worked a register, handling torn twenties, while boxing pizzas for orders of five pizzas--all with specific orders of course, like half cheese/half combo light on the sauce on the cheese side and extra cheese on the combo side--all the while biting the insides of my cheeks and thinking "Time and a half. Time and a half." As we get paid 1 1/2 times as much as normal when we work on Sundays.
Then I would get sent out to the patio where the masses devoured their purchases.
This is where I thought I knew for a fact that I hated humanity. Even if just for a moment. The napkin dispensers are scattered with torn bits of greasy tissues and I think, "If you take a napkin and tons spill on the floor, you can put them in the trash, can't you?!" And then, a nice little surprise is waiting for me behind the condiments--half of a polish hot dog glaring me in the face. Who splits their hot dog lengthwise down the middle and then leaves the other half on the table for a worker to clean up? It was your stupid hot dog! In addition, I have to mosey between pushy individuals more interested in turning out onions on their flesh popsicles than letting me clean up the spill at their feet. And then there's always the interaction with customers who like to be clever with me. One of my favorite comments of the day was an older gentleman (not old enough to be excused of his behavior, mind you) tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Hey sister, could you start cleaning the tables first? We'd like to sit down and eat." Sister? Do I look like a cocktail waitress to you, "brother?"
I won't even go in depth about the closing duties and how many people linger for ten, twenty, thirty or forty minutes after closing and wonder angrily why we're out of pizza. Or how my shoes encrust with pizza dough after washing the floors. Or the gag reflex that comes with every swipe of the sponge in the hot dog machine. Just know, closing is what they give to the expendable vermin that are desperate for money and acceptance.
So needless to say, I arrive home in a terrible mood. I reek of fast food, cleaning products, sweat and frustration. Even the hot shower can't remove the latter. Then, I listen to a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland called, "How Do I Love Thee?." In it, he explains the qualities needed to build strong relationships with your loved ones and with those around you. He quotes the famous scripture from 1 Cor. 13:
Charity suffereth long... is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil... Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things [and] endureth all things.
And I am deeply humbled. These customers obviously have no intention to make my life miserable. They just want to take a break from their hectic lives to sit down and eat. We are commanded to love one another as Christ has loved us. No matter the circumstances.
This concept has caused me to look at a lot of the ways I see the people around me--my family, friends, roommates, classmates, etc. Holland said that while we fall short of Christ's example, that divine standard is still set in place for us to reach for. My patience may be tried, but it is an opportunity for me to become more patient. My temper may be tried, but it is an opportunity for me to become more forgiving. My animosity may be tempted, but it is an opportunity for me to grow in love.
These are not lessons learned, but goals to become lessons learned. Although I still dread going into work tomorrow, I thank the Lord for being as patient with me as I am expected to be with my fellow brothers and sisters. For He indeed lets me slip up time and time again, always offering me the guidance I need to step up another level and grow closer to Him. I have a long, long way to go. Today was just another step.