Wednesday, August 29, 2012


My son just got a job at a new Italian restaurant on Highway 280 in Birmingham called Tellini's. (Y'all: food is SO GOOD!)

He's the youngest of the crew, and he's starting at the bottom: dishwasher.

So far he's learned that pizza dough is tough to scrub out of a pan; gloves, even if they're bright blue, are a good thing; and some people have no idea how to stack dishes. (He didn't know this either, until the job.)

Meanwhile, his parents are bursting with pride. What a learning experience for our young man! But, oh, is he eager to move up in the ranks, beyond mere dishwasher.

And it reminded me of Career Day in 8th grade. There was a poster contest, so I, being rather artsy, created a poster called "Don't be a Ditch Digger." I cut from construction paper a bunch of tiny shovels to form the letters in the title, and I wrote a lovely piece about how one should strive for something better than ditch digger, one should dream BIG, move forward!

I was certain my poster would win the contest.

Not only did it NOT win, it didn't even get an honorable mention.

I puzzled over this. I was used to winning. And hadn't the judges noticed all those tiny shovels? I couldn't figure it out.

Now, years and experience and life later, I think I know why my poster didn't place. And I'm a little embarrassed about it, to tell the truth. I was all high-n-mighty, looking down on the ditch digger. When, hello, we sorta need ditch diggers. It's an important job. And no less worthy than any other work.

Which is why this passage jumped out at me when I was reading WALKING ON WATER by Madeleine L'Engle:

"Servant is another unpopular word, a word we have derided by denigrating servants and service. To serve should be a privilege, and it is to our shame that we tend to think of it as a burden, something to do if you’re not fit for anything better or higher."

And that makes me think of Downton Abbey. Is it just me, or is the downstairs even more interesting than the upstairs?


  1. Interesting connections Irene. My son's first job was dishwasher at a Bennigan's. He worked so hard! And it is a very hard job. On to the servant/service idea. It's something I suppose we have been handed, this idea that certain jobs are of less import, but when I see the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) working with my husband, I am so grateful for their expertise. They exemplify the word "serve". Thanks for your thoughtful words, & best to your son in this new work.

  2. my first job was bottle feeding calves at 4:30 am and all I got was my allowence... not a % of the calves when they sold or hourly rate... my Daddy was a slave driver but he taught me how to work and even more important how to do the job right.
    My second job was exerising Walking horses... now that was fun.


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