Everyone has found themselves working next to someone that really grates on every single nerve. I certainly have. And I’d love to tell you how I rose above it all because I’m so positive minded. I can be as petty as the next person, I’m ashamed to say. In fact, having failed miserably is why I’m sharing this with you.
I’ve taken a few jobs in food service over the years, grocery delis and restaurants. I had been in such a position, happily working away. Well, almost happily. The hours were really not to my liking and I had to make adjustments in my life to accommodate the schedule. The time of my shift was the only true downside, but an undercurrent already at work. A daily reminder to consider another line of employment.
Foodservice requires a good bit of prep work and I welcomed the repetition of it. It gave me space to think about my writing. Most conversations in kitchens aren’t terribly deep. Being reserved, methodical, practical and quiet, I tend to blend in rather than stand out. I’m a friend of peace and quiet. Then one day, a new hire appeared, my total opposite in far too many ways.
The constant chatter and remarks eroded my sense of quietude. In those first few months, I complained bitterly about them several times while they grabbed onto every offense and tainted the air with negative observations and pronouncements. I extended an invitation to lunch—my treat—away from the job to have a conversation and try to understand. They held me at arm’s length. A rain check never cashed.
Gossiping, pretended friendliness and constant griping grated on me. They attempted to throw me under the bus repeatedly. Over time, I made jokes at their expense. I harbored dark feelings. I despised the new hire. To say my halo slipped a little would be a bold-faced lie. If I ever had a halo, it fell off with a loud ringing and rolled straight to the edge of the pit of hell.
When God refines us, or hopes to, he turns up the heat. I felt comfortable in that job. It wasn’t great money, but it was mindless work easily done and required no exceptional skills unless you count paying attention. The job was meant to be a sort of resting place, not my landing place. He uses jobs not only to refine me but to motivate me. After two years of this, I fell on my face one exasperating afternoon and finally asked God, “What am I supposed to do with this person?” Depending on how well you know God, the answer won’t surprise you. And if you don’t know Him, it just might.
“Apologize and ask their forgiveness.” Not the expected answer. But, I had noticed myself changing because of my environment and that hit me hard. The next day, I waited for my opportunity and apologized very sincerely. Surprisingly, this person did the same. I forgave them. The air cleared for a while between us.
I wanted that person to move on. But God’s plan showed me that I needed to move on. Soon after, doors opened for me. Opportunities revealed themselves. Within a few short months, I had a new job with a better schedule and new people. Then, a second part-time job that used even more of my skills. My pay increased.
What does this mean for you?
It’s sometimes easier to put up with annoyances rather than make changes. We must be honest with ourselves and look at our circumstances. Is this the best we can do? Is this really using all of our talents and abilities? How is our current job helping us evolve?
It requires little effort on our part to maintain our life. We want things to be easy. Thing is, easy doesn’t mean best. Oftentimes, greater options await us.
Now my work can be done from home, from the road or a coffee house of my choosing. With this new freedom, I plan to travel to a lot more places. If I had known how this was going to turn out, I’d have thanked them for motivating me.
Are you feeling that restlessness? Like maybe there’s something else you could be or want to be doing? What dreams and goals do you have for your work life? How can you start making those a reality today?