A few years ago after a Bible study a lot of the group continued to sit and talk and simply relax. One of the ladies felt like she was being mistreated by her boss. She was always given extra tasks or asked to assume responsibilities that no one else was asked to do. She felt it was unfair. As she was listing off some of the extras (she worked in a cafe for a plant), I was in flashback mode. My last year of college I was a shift manager at a fast food place. One of my many duties was to ensure that certain cleaning jobs (extra duties) was assigned and done properly. We were inspected by company headquarters once a quarter, and 3 of their 4 visits was ALWAYS a surprise visit. When I handed out those extra assignments, I had three things in mind: Who will do this job without making a bigger mess? Who can quickly do this job so we don't impede serving customers? Who will do this without the most drama? In essence, I wanted the best person for the job. Use the teenager who griped and complained about every single thing so the whole crew had to hear even more whining and griping? I had a hard enough time working with her on a normal night. Have the kid who trips over his own two feet and drops half of what he touches climb overhead and dust the bins where we stored the stacks of plastic wrapped caps while on a ladder? No, don't feel like having extra paperwork and a trip to the ER tonight. So who was I going to ask for help? One of my better workers. The ones who do their jobs right the first time, without complaining. Preferably the ones I don't have to constantly check on to make sure they're not goofing off. And it never once crossed my mind that the worker would feel like they were being picked on. I was simply thinking about inspections and who could do the best job. We had a job that needed to be done, and I chose the people who could do it the most efficiently. It never once crossed my mind that someone would feel targeted or picked on.
I was reminded of that last night as I was reading my niece's blog. She was sharing some very personal thoughts and feelings, and one of the things she included was a time when she and her sister both tried out for a play, and she was chosen to be a paper mache ham that danced while her sister took the main role. And prior to that section, I was feeling absolutely HORRIBLE at some of the things I read. But the play...it made me laugh. If I had to pick a cast of background people for a play I would look for people who could follow directions, not steal the spotlight but do such an incredible job in a small role that everyone would be talking about it later - and she has both of those qualities. If she's not enthusiastic about something, she simply doesn't do it. She has always been an all the way or nothing person, even as a toddler. She's extremely smart and seldom has to be told more than once how something needs to be done. She looks at an average scenario and has all these creative ideas for how to make it spectacular. Her energy level as a child often left me totally drained. And if I needed a dancing anything...she has the grace to make it look good and fun. She is/was the one you could stick at any position in a play and not worry about whether or not she'd learn her lines or give it all she had. So from a teacher's perspective...she would have made an incredible backstage character.
And it's gotten me to thinking about all those times I've been tired and struggling just to focus on an overwhelming to do list and someone has asked me or reminded me to do something for them. I may not actually physically scream "Can't you see I'm already overwhelmed and stressed out without you piling more on me?!?!" but I'm sure my attitude or expressions convey it. And yet, I'm being asked not because the person is trying to overwhelm me, but because it needs to be done and they think/know I can handle it. And in two weeks as I step back into 17 days of assigning responsibilities and placing people in jobs they may not prefer, I hope I remember to take an extra moment to let them know how much I appreciate their abilities and work. We all need that edification.