The Woes of Work (and they are few)


"Good afternoon; Grace Covenant Church; how may I help you?"

I picked up the phone and said those words for the last time today. I can't say I was sorry that it was the last time. Wow, I thought, I no longer need to pretend like I actually know what I'm doing!

I have been employed for the last thirteen months at a local church, where I also attend youth group on Wednesday nights. This is not the church, however, that I attend on Sunday mornings, and therefore I am not hugely familiar with all that goes on there. Therefore, I don't always know exactly what to do for people who call, and occasionally end up sounding kind of stupid: "Um, I'm sorry, sir, but I am really not the person to ask about that...can I take a message for you?" Or, when I do get a message, I sometimes email my direct boss with the information and the apologetic, "I had absolutely no idea who this should go to..." One time a guy came into the church and asked if we had a copier. I replied somewhat proudly, "We do, but we don't have a policy for non-staff members to use it." I thought to myself, Aha - I know something! Turns out the poor guy just wanted to sell us a copier, not use the one we already have. Nice going, genius!

I felt stupid in other ways, too. I was so used to working in the afternoon that when I had to cover for the morning once or twice, I picked up the phone and began with "Good afternoon..."

There were two kinds of calls I absolutely loved. The first one was when I picked up the phone and an automated message warning us about potentially expiring credit cards or exploding bombs had already started playing. Click! Or the ones where I went through my whole authoritative speel of greeting, to be followed by a click on the other end. Hey, if you don't want to talk to me, I ain't complainin'!

But overall, work was great. I got paid to sit at the computer, check my email, do school, and answer the occasional phone call. Oh yeah - sometimes I actually had to work for my money - shredding papers, addressing and stamping postcards, assembling guest gift bags, and other fun stuff. But it wasn't too bad, and I definitely could have had worse jobs. I could earn the exact same salary during the sparse babysitting jobs, so I compared the two. Hmm...would I rather change the diapers of little screaming tots, or would I rather put inserts in CD cases? Well, let me think about this for a little while...

Nevertheless, today was my last day as a receptionist (read: largely unlearned person who sits at the front desk, smiles, and nods). No, I didn't lose my job, but I am transitioning from answering phones to doing all of the extra stuff I previously did - guest gift bags, new believers' toolboxes, assembling CD cases and boxes in which to mail travel mugs to guests, and so on. I keep my four-hours-a-week even if I sit there twiddling my thumbs for half the time. Did I mention that I love working at this church?

So today I bid a not-too-fond farewell to feeling incompetent over the phone. No more fumbling words, making dumb mistakes, or telling someone for the hundredth time, no, no one from this number called you in my [scant] knowledge. Today I move on to bigger and better things.

And now, bring me that horizon...