Monday, September 2, 2013

Ten Deep Thoughts on Labor Day

  • I got my first job when I was eleven years old.  I taught swim lessons at the local public pool for two dollars an hour.  I have worked almost every summer of my life since then. 
  • Only teachers think working over the summer is a thing to write about in a blog.
  • Jobs I’ve had: swimming instructor, babysitter, hardware store cashier, telemarketer, telephone operator, substitute teacher, elementary school teacher, high school teacher, adult school teacher, food service worker, warehouse inventory taker, laundry and dry cleaning worker, lifeguard, publicity writer.
  • I was almost killed at work at the Ace Hardware in Santa Cruz during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. Though a big oak desk saved me, the people working next door at the coffee roasters were struck by falling beams and died.  All they were trying to do that day was make a living. They were kind and friendly and I think about them every day as a reminder for just about everything.
  • The best job: teaching.
  • The worst job: dry-cleaning but mostly because the boss who ran the operation was a weirdo who made racist comments about the non-English speaking fellow who did the steam pressing.
  •  Any job can be hell if the people in charge are corrupt. The luxury of work that is fulfilling is just that, a luxury.  Most people in the world aren't so lucky. Dignity and fairness in the workplace are human rights integral to a true democracy.
  • I took two yoga classes this Labor Day weekend with Sukhbir Kaur, Nirinjan Kaur and Gina Garcia, teachers who expressed that there was nowhere else they would rather be in that moment than sharing their knowledge with their students.  They were enthusiastic, generous, patient and funny. I will be blessed by their challenge to be better and more loving for the rest of my week.
  • Good teachers remind me that labor is a creative gift.  My work with students, stories, my own teachers, children and home is where Holy Spirit flows through my life.  Good teachers remind me to express my joy to my students so that they know that teaching them is my privilege.  In the same way, having a home to tend, children to look after and stories to write are all evidence of Spirit at work and I am so, so grateful.
  • Nonetheless, three-day weekends off work are nice.

I don't know who took this picture but this is where I used to work.