As a teenager, I worked at a steamy, stinky, waxy, stainless steel Arby’s booth at the mall. It was my first job and I was grateful to be hired at fifteen…
I absolutely NEEDED those extra dollars for prom dresses and the hugely important things that were awesome reasons to skirt my tennis practices, studies and sleep…
Don’t you agree?
I hope you catch my facetious tone. Not that Arby’s was a bad gig. Well, other than the 5 for 5 specials and the greasy smell it wasn’t. My friends and I had a blast. I met interesting “regulars,” watched religious mall walkers, and served rabid roast beef lovers.
We even had a vegan manager threatening to take his own life or fall into early mid-life crisis (facetiously) if anyone else ordered one more roast beef sandwich – especially during the Christmas season.
I got to use my counseling skills to talk him off the ledge more than once.
However, after a year or two, Arby’s wore itself out on me. Maybe it was one too many value meals or cheddar cups, or times talking Dave* off the ledge, but more realistically, it was that I had outgrown the season.
And I frankly had a better offer.
I quit and took a new job in a flower shop with a friend. It paid a dollar more an hour and I literally smelled like a bouquet of roses at the end of each night. At this job, I worked with many customers also. Those wanting high school dance corsages, those wanting (sadly) to see the funeral book, those wanting to order flowers for sick relatives, and most of all, men who wanted to romance their wives.
I remember the men that walked into a flower shop could be grouped into three or four categories in my brain, unintentionally but nonetheless they were grouped.
One was the group that ordered tired carnations for their wives just because they were on sale. It was a cheap but loving gesture and I admired their faithful toils to trek in each week for a fresh bouquet for their lady. I knew they may not be able to afford much else or they were thrifty for reasons I would not judge but could not admire deeply.
Another group was the “dozen red roses” type. During Valentine’s Day we had boxes lined up everywhere, we couldn’t even walk. This is a great group, special occasion or not. They’re on a mission and willing to spend the extra buck. Every woman appreciates a gift of this nature and finds it thoughtful and unique.
It isn’t unique. I can’t go that far but I do applaud this group and myself also wisely appreciate the romantic gesture of a dozen red roses.
Then there was the group of men whose breath smelled SO strong of alcohol as they ordered. And I’m not one to EVER look for those kind of details but it couldn’t be helped it was so strong. I was only 17 but I wondered about them and still do. Who were they bringing flowers too, already drunk? Big fight? Or just settled and a little complacent? This group was at least a quarter or third of the men in my working-class hometown of Taylor, MI.
Finally, there was a group of men that made the job really actually feel really special. These were the men who said, I want something special, something unique for my wife or girlfriend. Could you make up a special bouquet or vase just for her? She likes (favorite color or flower).
Sometimes they actually ventured into the cooler to make up their own bouquet for her and just asked me to tie it in a bow.
These were the kind of relationships I loved noticing. Not because I wanted them or had any kind of tie to the men. Not only was I a Christian with the same solid principles I have now about monogamy but I was in the first heyday of my own relationship with my now-husband. He was captain of the football team and on varsity basketball. He had a car and brought me to youth group, too. I was solid! 🙂
No, it was because I knew, looking ahead, that there was something special about this type of person who was so creative and thoughtful in their relationship. My co-workers and I often sighed as this type of guy left and wistfully called our boyfriends or starting gushing about our hopes and dreams.
That’s because this type of person is infectious in a good way. This rare, less than five percent type, who walked in who wasn’t content to simply be like everyone else or to simply follow a sale.
However their purchases didn’t cost anymore typically than the red roses guys. But that extra care they put into their relationship was obvious even to me at that tender age.
So why this message to you today?
Because I want to remind you to be in that small percentage of fascinating and caring individuals. It makes life sweeter not only for you but for everyone around you as well…
Be the one who puts the extra care into the sandwich you pack for your child’s lunch. Put the extra finesse in the work meeting you participate in or the class project you’ve got the finish. And be artful, be romantic. Don’t listen to anyone that tells you that you’re “too much” or that you should just fit in better. Just laugh with them, knowing you have a secret joy they can’t steal.
People who aren’t living up to their personal and relationship potential often have a thick and unrelenting layer of depression as well. When you start living in God’s creative design for your relationships and work, you can finally start to thrive.
So today, if you’re having your own personal Arby’s moment, I challenge you to take just one step in a new direction. After all, if you’re just plodding through life, taking the easiest and most predictable steps, you’re gonna get a fast-food kind of experience.
But as you venture out and find new horizons, the fragrant scent you leave everywhere you go will be absolutely unforgettable! 🙂
Bon voyage, Make it a great day!
Love Living Life Intentionally With You,