Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Making sandwiches

I have been working at Subway for about two weeks. I like it well enough. I interact with people, I get free cookies, I feel generally good about the company--we don't throw away food much, we serve a relatively healthy fast food option. Yes, I make minimum wage but since my income is supplemental, that's not a huge issue. I have been trying not to be prideful; when people ask me I just tell them that's where I work without trying to sound like I'm above this type of job, I try not to act like I'm better than the other workers, even though I believe I'm the only one with a college degree.

But, it's all a bit humbling. Because the only job I can get here is Subway, and I doubt I'll get anything better than this or perhaps substitute teaching, while I live here. Luckily, my hope and plan is to move to Raleigh/Durham area for grad school next fall, so I won't be working on an assembly line forever. It's a phase of life, and I get to work part-time, play housewife which I enjoy, and spend lots of time with my new husband.

What if this weren't temporary? What if we were planning to stay here indefinitely? I see why it is so difficult to move to a small town and find a way in. I see how my BA in English doesn't go too far in a place that's not a metropolis with thousands of nonprofit or church or writing jobs. I honestly have no idea what I would even want to do if I had to make a career here in Cherokee. I thought my liberal arts degree was equipping me for anything, but when the best I can even apply for is to be a medical secretary or entry level hospital job, I'm not sure what to think. People who don't realize I'm planning to leave in 9 months ask me what I want to do here, and I'm at a loss to answer.

I also realize how blessed I was, career-wise, in DC. I loved teaching adult literacy. I loved being a youth and children's minister. I was paid to love people. I was able to use gifts and skills that I had developed, and to be stretched to keep developing new skills. I had networks of people who knew me and could recommend me for jobs.

As I keep making sandwiches, maybe I'm being cured a little of the romantic idea that every job should be a dream job, that work should always feel fulfilling or it's not worth doing, that the only place for my gifts is the workplace. It's okay to make sandwiches for a few hours, come home, and put my caring-for-people gifts to use with phone calls to friends, and put my creativity gifts to use with cooking, put my writing gifts to use on the blog, and be stretched not by new tasks at work but in learning to be married.

I hope I won't have to do it this way forever, because there is so much I want to give to the world, and I am willing to work hard, to go out of my comfort zone to exercise my gifts. But for now, there is something to learn in the simplicity of making sandwiches and mopping floors. I hope I'm aware enough to find it.

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