The scenery blurred by, as scenery often does. It moved with a stubborn destination. Behind, always behind me, pushing everything forward, moving the truck I was in closer and closer to the end. It was inevitable. Unless the earth opened up and swallowed this entire vehicle whole, which I've not often know the earth to do, we'd be in Van Buren, Arkansas in a matter of moments.
I was on my way to what most of us in the working world like to call, "The life-sucking, self-esteem deflating, deadly first day." My first day. There was a job laying rubber base at a construction site in Arkansas and it was mine. For two days, at least. Then, if all went according to plan, the location would change, the job would not.
But there was a minor problem. I didn't know how to do it. I'd had a grand total of one hour's training the day before. My brother - the expert - would be there. But, but, buts. It was a job and after two months of unemployment, I needed whatever I could get.
I wouldn't say it was a terrible experience. But then again, another adjective doesn't come to mind. The site was crawling, dusty inch by dusty inch, with workers. Everyone in a hurry. Everyone a different task. And most everyone not English speaking.
Armed with a razor blade and glue gun, I hit the floor. We only had 1,700 feet to cover, give or take a millimeter. Better get started.
It was a revealing day, as was the day after, as has been the days since as I take to the floor armed with a straight edge and a desire to pay my mortgage.
Here's a few truths I've discovered:
- Pay attention to your surroundings or you're bound to whack yourself in the head, hard, in front of everyone. And embarrassment will linger long after the bruise.
- It really is hard not to flash your underwear when bent over for hours at a time. Let's give plumbers a break.
- If you are a female and seeking male attention, try strapping on knee pads. They get attention. Go figure.
- Being outside our element gives us better directions on getting back in.
I didn't belong there on that site. I knew that. So did most of the men who came up to ask me, "What are you doing here?" I was on the floor, cutting pieces of rolled base, strapped with a glue gun and a dangerous glint of perspiration. If they couldn't figure it out, explaining it wouldn't help.
I've asked God a few trillion times in my life exactly what He wanted me to do. "What God? What IS it? Just say the word. What should I do with my life?" That day, I didn't hear Him say a word. I didn't need to. I knew, without the booming voice and cracking thunder.
The answer was not WHAT but WHO. Who am I? I'm a writer. Actions always follow.
What does God want you to do? Forget the What. Focus on the Who. Answer that. And until you can figure it out, explaining it won't help.
Tara Lynn Thompson