The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15
It was time to go to work. It may sound out of date…and maybe it is but I was counting the days till I turned 15. Not because I was eligible for a learner’s permit, not because I was on the edge of moving on to high school but because, wait for it, I could get a work permit. You see in Florida when you turned 15 you could get your social security number and get a work permit and…work. I was ready and I had an in.
Sue Lovell was a neighbor who lived catty-corner from us at 6008 Carlton Road. She lived in one of the nicer homes in the sub-division that had surrounded us, and we lived in our “used to be” army barracks. I can remember Sue well. She was a little different but at the same time very kind. Well, she worked at this small restaurant called the Village Oven and she offered to try and get me a job if I wanted. Well, I wanted and next thing I knew I was hired.
My job was not working on a computer or running a business and making life changing decisions. No, I started by serving people…sorta. Looking back, it probably was a little challenging especially for someone just getting their feet wet in the working world. First, I was the busboy which meant it was my responsibility to clear all the tables. As soon as someone left, I rushed out and cleaned the table. Second, I was the dishwasher which meant I scraped the plates and then loaded and ran the commercial dishwasher that was tucked out front under the counter. Of course, I also unloaded the dishwasher and made sure there was a constant supply of plates, bowls, glasses, and silverware. But wait there is more.
I was also head of the cleaning crew—which consisted of—me. After our customers left, I was to mop the restaurant floor and clean the bathrooms. Looking back, it seems that besides the cooking and waiting, I had my hands in just about everything. There was always plenty to do…time passed quickly, and it taught me responsibility. I was beginning to get the feel of helping and serving others. The best part of the job, of course, was getting paid. My hours varied from a few to a lot, and I made a whopping, jaw dropping seventy-five cents an hour. Since this was about 1969, I suppose that was a fair wage and that seventy-five cents went a long way.
I can remember my largest paycheck was around $23. It must have been during the summer, and I worked somewhere over 30 hours. I always felt a little rich when I got my check, but that week—I felt more than pretty rich—I felt like Mr. Rockefeller. There is a certain pride in a job done well and getting paid “certificates of appreciation” as Rabbi Daniel Lapin calls them. Most of us call them dollars and they did make me feel appreciated. I can’t remember exactly how long I worked at the Village Oven but I worked long enough to appreciate the value of bringing home a paycheck. I worked long enough to spread my wings a little and fly the friendly skies of growing up.
I’m grateful to Sue Lovell for helping me get the job and I am grateful that my Momma and Daddy drove me the six or seven miles to work and picked me up…sometimes late at night. I know now that often it is the small things that people do that should and do get stuck in our memories. It is also the small things that can make a big difference later on. My first job taught me about serving others, commitment, responsibilities, respect for my bosses, and teamwork at an early age. I can’t measure the entire value of that work experience, but I know I sure learned a lot about how the adult working world operated.
God gave us work even before sin came along. He knew the value of a man, woman or young adult getting their hands dirty. He knew the value of working and making a difference and while it may seem hard at the time, the benefits can last a lifetime. Genesis, the first book in the Bible, says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” The God who made us knows what is best for us. I’ve heard it said that we should bloom where we are planted, and I think that means caring for the garden around us too. If you find yourself a little overwhelmed with this work thing or any other thing, just ask God and He will lend a hand…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne