Labor Day reminds us of all the people in this country who work to support themselves and their families. I’ve worked many different jobs in my lifetime, from baby sitting as a teenager, jobs to help put me through college, a coat factory the summer before Larry and I got married, a furniture store when I couldn’t find a teaching job, a daycare worker, along with many positions in the education world. Larry has done the same thing: tree trimming one summer in college, a meat packing plant another summer, tool salesman, plus a number of jobs in radio and television before he became a free-lance videographer. We both value and appreciate hard-working folks at all levels. Neither of our families had much money, and our roots go back to grandparents who made a living with their hands.
On Labor Day I am more mindful of those who work in the low-paying jobs that usually require working with their hands. These are the people who may be unseen, ignored, or overlooked. People like Hagar.
In Genesis 16:7-14 Abraham’s wife, Sarah, became angry at her servant, Hagar, because Hagar was pregnant by Abraham while Sarah remained barren. In a fit of anger, she was abusive to Hagar, so Hagar ran away to the desert. When God spoke to Hagar, she said, “You are the God who sees me. I have now seen the One who sees me.”
As a servant, Hagar would be used to being in the presence of her master and mistress and yet seem to be invisible or unseen. Her job, no, her life was to take care of anything that Sarah needed. She was at the mercy of Sarah’s wants and desires. When Sarah told Abraham to take Hagar as a wife, Hagar had no choice in the matter; she did as she was told. I don’t know the experience of having servants work for me, but I have worked those jobs that serve others.
Are there people who cross your path every day that you do not see? Those with jobs that may require cleaning up other folks’ mess, jobs that require getting dirty, or just working in the lowest paid position. Who cleans up this mess in a restaurant?
Who makes that expensive hotel look good with crisply folded towels, clean carpets, and neatly tucked sheets?
When I visit my local YMCA, on certain days we are greeted by students from a nearby high school. They say “good morning” and scan ID cards. You may wonder why high school students are out of class to do this insignificant job. They all have very obvious handicaps: wheelchair bound, may use a communication device, or have great difficulty positioning a scanner just right. I am probably more mindful of these students because I taught similar students for many years. But the experience of seeing them in my neighborhood fitness center makes me feel good. Their smiles are so bright and cheerful. They are happy to be doing these jobs. They make my day!
I challenge you to SEE the people in your daily life who work in places that go unnoticed. Maybe it’s the custodian in your building. Maybe it’s the security guard, the valet parking attendant, or the cab driver.
God values each soul, each life. He SEES all of us and expects us to love our “neighbor”. A simple thank you may be enough, or a word to a supervisor of your appreciation for a job well-done. The girl who took my order at the drive-thru recently was clear, concise, and repeated the order back correctly, all the while filling drinks and working a cash register. I made sure that someone knew she was doing a good job.
So often we are quick to let a business know when a job is not well-done. What if we gave positive words to the person and then followed up with a written note to the company every time a job is well done? How long would it take?
Think about it. I call it “giving joy away”. It always blesses my life in return.
“No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.” aesop