Today I am trying to learn the cash register at my brother’s stationary mobile kitchen and I charge an old man $776.00 for his hamburger.
I tell him I’m truly sorry but he is not happy about it.
I tell him this is my first day, that I am helping my brother by learning how to take orders for meals. That sometimes Jim needs extra help when he gets really busy and since I work for free he will be calling on me.
Now I can’t get the cash drawer open. The ten dollar bill the old fellow is trying to give me flies off the counter and out the counter window and sticks to the old fellow’s gray sweatered chest.
I reach out and peel the bill off him.
My brother is grilling all the orders directly behind me. It’s a small space and our butts are touching.
“Jim,” I shout over the sound of the fan and roaring fire, “I need help!”
Jim suggests I stand aside and let Emily, the very capable woman who is putting the meals together, run the cash register at the orders window for awhile.
Good idea. A rush of people have just showed up and I am panicked.
Pretending to be useful, I hand out bottles of iced tea, cokes and water through the small orders window to the customers who ask for them. I keep jostling Emily and poking her in the back with the cold cans.
Soon, a Hispanic fellow comes back to the window after he has placed his order with Emily. He’s trying to ask me something as he maneuvers his way around the crowd.
He’s yelling, “Key! Key!’
“Someone else has it!” I shout back. “They’re in the bathroom. You’ll have to wait until they come out so you can get the key and go in!”
“Key! Key!” he mouths, again.
“You can’t go to the bathroom until they bring the key out!” I repeat, loudly.
The man disappears.
Soon, he’s back, hollering at me, “Key! I want the key!”
He must have to go the bathroom really badly.
I stick my head around Emily and lean out the window, “I’m sorry. You gotta’ wait for the key! I’m sorry. You can’t go to the bathroom until the other person comes out.”
Everyone is looking at the man.
Emily says, “He’s saying tea Venus. He wants his tea! You forgot to give it to him.”
Poor man. Everyone in line thinks he’s desperate to pee or maybe they are just getting some entertainment from me while they wait.
A man with a heavy accent keeps asking me if there are hamburger places in Los Angeles.
“Yes, lots,” I say.
He wants to know what hamburger places are in L.A. and where.
I tell him I don’t know, I don’t go to L.A. that it’s three or four hours north of here.
He keeps asking and pointing at Jim and me. Finally, I get it. He wants to know if there is another Jim Place..another Third Street Grill in L.A.
“He likes us!” I yell at Jim.
I tell the man that no, we are the only one. This is it. I tell him it’s his Lucky Day. A lucky day that he landed at Jim’s place in this tiny town.
He doesn’t get what I mean by it being his lucky day.
I ask where he is from and he says Saudi Arabia. I wave my arms around and welcome him to our country and he understands that. He is very, very pleased about the welcome and I am happy that I have promoted good relations between the countries.
I hope he can find another great hamburger in L.A. or in any other part of the U.S.A…but, I doubt it.
I am, after all, my brother’s sister, and Jim is the best.
When I’m too exhausted to hand out tea, I tell Jim I’m leaving.
“Can you come back Wednesday?” he says.
He is a obviously a desperate man.
His cook had an attack of schizophrenia last week and left in the middle of rush hour. He left forever.
But, he did leave Jim a nice letter. He told my brother what a wonderful man he is, how wonderful his siblings are and how much Jim did to help him. At the end of the note he wrote, “And if anyone ever gives you a hard time, just call me and I will have them snuffed out.”
After Jim reads me the epistle he shakes his head. “It was such a nice note,” he says. “Until that last line.”
Now, resting at home, I am thinking about all the jobs I am not good at. This job at Jim’s is one of them.
When I was fifteen I sorted rocks in a garage standing up at a high bench with six grown-ups. The rocks were gem stones of different types. I didn’t do well. The sifting was boring. We all faced a cold grey brick wall. Work was exhausting. I wanted to sit down.
I wanted to quit. The owners wanted to fire me. But, they were friends of my parents and wouldn’t have felt right about canning me. So they moved me to the office where I gave another lack-luster and limp performance. Finally we all just said…’Uncle.’ We all gave up on me at once, no hard feelings.
When I was seventeen I worked at the May Company over Christmas. I was put behind the cosmetics counter because I had ‘a good appearance.’
I was not allowed to sit down all evening and my legs hurt. I paced like a lion in a small cage. Watched the clock. Moaned. Sighed.
At that time the cosmetics sales people were old ladies so laden with caked cosmetics that their faces appeared to drag down from their small eyes while their big velvet red lips seemed to almost touch their pink collars.
The women didn’t like me. They thought I would take their jobs. Not a chance. The only thing I did well there was have that ‘good appearance.’
When I graduated from college I thought it would be a reasonable idea to join the phone company. I thought it would be satisfying to be an operator and say “Number please…” over and over to thousands of people all over the globe.
The phone company made me take a test before they would hire me. No problem. I was a smart college graduate.
I flunked the phone company’s test. I found that incredible. I wasn’t bright enough to say “Number please”?
What to do? Previous experience had taught me that I wouldn’t be able to succeed as a secretary or any of the other menial jobs that were allotted to women at that time. There was only one thing left. Be a school teacher.
So I went back to school, got that degree, became a first grade teacher and found, guess what…I was lousy at that, too.
It bothered me that kids threw up on their math papers, peed freely at their desks and that the male principals most of us women teachers had back then were sometimes so enormously stupid. Mine were also prone to tirades and furtive peeking into my room through outside classroom windows.
After a stint in Arkansas in a beautiful classroom with no supplies and the meanness around race relations at the time, I took another job in sunny and warm California. The school featured a huge round building with only one window and that was in the door. Because of this, the place was always bitterly cold with air-conditioning while we simmered for hours under harsh florescent lighting. There was a mob of children and eight teachers crammed inside the ugly place all practicing Team Teaching (ha!) together. I again cried ‘Uncle’ and was out.
Next it was real estate sales, which was more suitable to my nature but I still got myself in trouble. The neighborhood I regularly walked and worked for listings got a nasty surprise one day.
My broker, a large Italian man named Joe, called me into his office. He had me sit across from him at his big mahogany desk.
“I been getting some calls,” he said. “From your neighborhood.”
He looked at me and raised a well-haired eyebrow.
“They’re pretty mad,” he continued. “Why do you think they’re so upset?”
He rubbed his fleshy jaw.
I didn’t know.
“Well….” said Joe, “It’s very serious. Apparently when you wrote your last neighborhood real estate newsletter, you told them all about the extra twenty pounds of shit they all carry in their bowels…”
Joe looked at me.
I hadn’t called it “shit.”
Everyone knows it’s “fecal matter.”
“And then you wrote about all the parasites and the worm eggs that were in those big bowels of theirs. You even drew pictures.”
So? Wouldn’t everyone want to see and know about a health problem like this?
“The worst part is, you put this crap in their mailboxes,” my broker added.
Then he stood up and leaned over the table towards me. “You could go to jail!” he screamed. “Don’t you know it’s a federal offense to put things in people’s mailboxes other than the mail?! Are you trying to put me outta’ business?! I got a call from the f…..postmaster!”
I lost interest in Real Estate.
Next came an herb business (my new interest in herbs is what had prompted me to tell people in my Real Estate newsletter that it was time to clean out their bowels, after all). I was much better suited with herbs.
From there, I began to find my way. Instead of doing the work that seemed logical and reasonable to most of the of the world, I started to do what I wanted to do and what I was good at.
As an herbalist I saw clients and began writing books. From there I garnered opportunities to build multi-level businesses, which led to doing training and traveling for big companies.
Eventually, bounding back from a disasterous relationship where I lost all the monies I had gained, I began working as a hynotherapist, which led to work as a medium; a person who spoke to the living and the dead.
Because of that work, radio came calling and I found myself with a radio show where I began working over the phone with people around the world.
Today I counsel people from every area of life. I’m able to look into, clarify and often change their problems to a better outcome. With good intent I read the minds of the people that concern them and then I work to bring good things into the lives of all of these people who contact me.
When anyone and everyone said I couldn’t do the things I’ve come to do…I did them.
It’s just that I can’t do the things that most people can do. But most can’t do what I do, either.
What about you? Do you keep trying to work at what you must work at, or think you should work at, aren’t even good at, or what everyone wants you to work at?
‘Chuck it all’, I say. ‘As quickly as you realistically can’.
Do what you’re best at. Do what you like to do. Make it happen.
THE BEST JOB TO HAVE IS THE JOB YOU’RE GOOD AT.
Don’t bother with the others.
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