The work that I was asked to do around home was the process that taught me that it is not the money that is the most important reward for work. Oh, don't get me wrong, I did learn that lesson by making the puerile mistake of asking for "pay" after a particularly hard session behind the home lawn mower. I made the request just before supper on that fateful night. My father looked me in the eye and simply said: "It's going to be on the table in five minutes. Eat well." I never again made the same mistake for anything that I did for the family.
As time went on, that event served as fertile ground for the growing understanding of the community benefits that work brings into being. Not just around the house, everywhere.
I worked on the tobacco farms.
I dug ditches for an entrepreneur auto repairman's sewage sloughs.
I carried lumber for a construction company.
I worked in a printing company in a semi-technical department and got to be very good at it.
I worked as an indoor painter.
I worked as a switchoard operator for a telephone answering service.
I worked at a water filtration plant where I shoveled sand every day for two months.
I drove airport shuttle vans.
I drive non-emergency medical patient transport vans to transport people to and from dialysis.
I worked as an apartment manager.
I delivered newspapers.
I washed floors. I had a regular clientele for about two years.
I taught theology classes - still do as a matter of fact.
I was a human resources director.
I work as a language translator.
I work as a pilgrimage travel organizer.
Everything I ever did in any field and for any person or company, I did as a result of a direct personal agreement for the person or company who was going to benefit from the fruit of my labor. I never allowed myself to be separated from my employer, individual or company, by an agent. The lesson that my father taught me stayed with me and grew and blossomed into the conviction that by my good efforts both I and the company would succeed and in spirit, if not necessarily in bodily presence, we would both profit by our relationship.
Yes, I worked for people, individuals and companies who did not share my understanding of life. I would leave and go somewhere else. I believe that work is a community process aimed in the same direction. Just like a flock of geese.
I am convinced that many of the economic and social problems that we have are caused by the adversarial nature of our work relationships. I have lived with that conviction for a very long time.
I pray that someday we will be able to overcome this "we vs them" relationship. We have to find a better way to achieve the common good that we all say that we seek. if it doesn't happen before my funeral, don't cry over the failure and surely don't cry for my departure.