Archive for the ‘Thoughts from a squeaky chair.’ Category

A couple years ago I was an Assistant Manager at a restaurant, working for people who were only interested in the bottom line no matter how low they had to limbo to get there.  Our management staff was unhappy because none of us were proud of what we were selling.  The food was cut rate quality and the portions were a joke.  We privately consoled each other that we were part of the employed and tried not to let the other employees under us know how unhappy we were.

For me there was a “jump the shark” moment when I knew my employment there had begun winding down (it took a couple years and didn’t happen the way anyone imagined, but that’s another story).  We were in a manager meeting with our… I don’t know, “District Manager?” a guy I actually kind of liked because I felt that he, like me, was paying the price for making a bad career choice as a teenager.  Sometimes familiarity doesn’t breed contempt.  Anyway, he was telling us how he wanted our job to be “our passion.”  He even said it passionately, as if this job was HIS passion, which it may well have been.

He noticed me looking at the ceiling with a contemplative look in my eye and said I looked like I wasn’t sure.

“I’m trackin’ with you,” I said.  And the truth was: I was tracking with him.  All too well.  And it was in this moment that this business lost me forever.  I still strove to do a good job while I worked for them, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore, not even for a paycheck.

What happened was I asked myself if this was my passion, working for this company and whether it ever would be.  The answer was resoundingly negative on both counts.  I didn’t respect the people I worked for, mainly because the only values they had were money and the country club.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a steady paycheck too, but it’s not what’s driving me these days.  I don’t care if my friends or family drive a nicer car or live in a swankier home.  Those things may be nice for me and my family someday but as far as money goes I only want it to pay my kids tuition and get completely out of debt- which I’ve done twice in my adult life, once for almost a week!

And I can be- nay SHOULD be passionate about doing my absolute best at whatever job I have.  Working 100% and working as unto God and not unto man.  But I can’t manufacture a passion for a job that brings out the worst in me.

As I talked about it with the General Manager of the restaurant he made a comment that put the whole thing over the top for me: “My passion is my family,” and our job kept us away from them way too much.  My two young girls were growing up pretty quickly and I was missing a lot of it.  During the summer months I only had 4 days off each month- and they were never in a row.  My kids need their daddy, and they don’t need him tired and shouting every time they have some rare family time either.

I have a passion for barbecue too.  Not grilling out but low-and-slow smoking of pork, chicken, beef brisket, etc.  In fact my wife and I own a business that makes and sells barbecue sauce (Heavy D’s Throw-Down-Delicious Bar-B-Que Sauce). It’s good stuff and I suspect I’ll blog about that from time-to-time as well.

I love painting, and not because I’m so darn good at it.  I love the way I feel when I’m painting.  It’s one of the most relaxing things I do.  I love golfing too, but even if I’m not keeping score I still have to deal with all the lost balls.

I’m passionate about writing, or storytelling in general.  As I write this I just received a contract from Books & Such Literary Agency who will represent me.  I’ve written a book titled …by Design, which I am confident will be published in the near future.  I’m excited and passionate about the book and what it represents.

The thing that I am most passionate about is my faith, my absolute belief that God created the universe, that He has revealed Himself to us in the Bible (a complete revelation and 100% reliable document from Genesis 1 through Revelation 23) and by sending Jesus to be not only the saviour of the world, but the Lord of the world.

Did I mention that that’s what I’m most passionate about?  Yeah, well… sometimes it’s what I’m least passionate about.  I mean, I’m still passionate about it but I do a lousy job remembering it sometimes.

I dig music, I dig movies, I dig books, I dig traveling, I dig Walt Disney World, I dig Classical Education (something that IS moving towards the “passion zone), I dig improvisational comedy.  There are even elements in each of them that I can feel passionate about, but they all come naturally to me and they are each rewarding in one way or another.  Will any of them become full-fledged passions?  We’ll see.  Will I have jobs that I will be passionate about?  Absolutely.  In fact, I feel like I’m closer to that every day.  But the job that I’m passionate about won’t be about giving the customer a cheap, meaningless clump of food that barely satisfies their stomach.  I’m hoping it will be something that will feed someone’s spiritual need, pointing them towards Jesus Christ.

Was that job my District Manager’s passion? I don’t know.  But I do doubt he’d show up to work if he wasn’t getting a paycheck.

People who have known me for any length of time find it strange that I can’t fill pages and pages with information about me.  For years I’ve taken grief about the size of my ego, my arrogance and whatnot.  I should be able to write a hundred books about everything I’ve done in the last two weeks, right?

Strangely, I’m not that guy…

The grief I get is because I speak with confidence about things I feel strongly about, most of which I’ve been thinking about for a while before I start running my yapper.  I don’t have immediate recall of everything I’ve read or seen when discussing things so I sometimes have a hard time refuting an argument when it’s placed before me (though on the ride home I can usually bust out, “And another thing!”).

The biggest reason some people consider me arrogant is because I try not to wear my insecurities on my sleeve.  My wife sees them all; they are like Mrs. Bennett’s nerves to Mr Bennett, his “constant companion these many years.”  I know now that when I’m being a mope I should just keep to myself until I can get my act together and act like a man rather than a Rousseauian whiner that society seems to breed and nobody seems to like.

So, if I need to say anything about myself it is this:

My life is wonderful.  I have a beautiful (and tolerant) wife, two beautiful girls, a great family and friends who challenge me, whether they mean to or not, to be a better man and a better servant of Jesus.  Everything I have is by God’s grace.  He’s even graced me with stuff I don’t need!

This summer I’ll be forty-five, and I feel like some things in my life are just getting started.  After years of trying to get an agent for screenplays I’ve written (unsuccessfully) I am now being represented by an amazing agency, Books & Such, and a wonderful agent, Mary Keeley (whose name I still fight an urge to spell wrong.  Sorry Mary) for a book I’ve written for the Christian market.  I’m confident that the book will be published, though there’s still plenty of work for me to do on it, some of which is self promotion.  Oy…

So stick around for the ride.  As I blog I will be doing some book/movie/television/radio reviews and I’m sure I will make more than a few lucid comments.  I’m looking forward to posting my “Trekster Manifesto” and my Sherlock Holmes book reviews (post A.C. Doyle).  And I’m looking forward to you commenting and telling me how arrogant I am.  Believe me, you won’t see me cry.