The Left-Handed Broom

"Use the left-handed broom".

That's what Old John, my co-worker at the market, use to shout at me as I was going to clean-up the market floor from the day's activities.

Of course, there is no such thing as a left-handed broom. 

CREDIT: Reddit 

CREDIT: Reddit 

Tomorrow, October 12th, is Old Farmer's Day - a day that celebrates the hard work of farmers.

While I did not technically work for a farmer, I did work for a farmer's market (we were a stand that sold local produce representing multiple farms in the SW PA).

I was a twenty-something punk (I am forty-something punk now) - but I worked with mostly older, retired factory workers at the market.

There was Old John, a terribly charming, persuasive man who could sell ketch-up to a tomato. He could skillfully navigate the endless number of disgruntled women coming in asking what happened to their geraniums (his two answers no matter what the problem: "you watered it too much" and "you didn't water it enough").

There was Mike Sr. a crumpled old man who smoked like a chimney, equally charming. He took it upon himself to teach me about horse racing (he just felt like it something I should know). He would come into work and say "Yoders I'll pick you up at 7". It didn't matter if I had plans. He was there at 7 in his beat up truck and off we went.

And then there was Glenn.

There is a quote that reminds me of Glenn every time I hear it - "don't make your presence known, make your absence felt".

 

There is a quote that reminds me of Glenn every time I hear it - "don't make your presence known, make your absence felt". 

 

That's Glenn.

He was a 65 yr old man who was retired factory worker. He had been married to his wife for 45 years. He worked at the market because that's what he knew - work. He did not have retirement hobbies. 

Glenn showed up to work an hour early each day.

He arrived at the market before anyone else did (including the owner, who lived on the second floor of the building).

His farmer denims were always neatly pressed. He always brought his lunch (his wife packed for him). While we received an hour lunch each day, Glenn would never take more than 30 minutes. 

One time I arrived at work 15 minutes late (Old John greeted me with "good afternoon"). I had just rode my bike 20 miles with a hangover from the night before (my father figured he would teach me a lesson).

Glenn gave me his lunch so that I could eat it for breakfast. 

Glenn would never leave for the day until the last person left (he didn't want anyone to have to shoulder additional work alone). Even if you told him it was ok to leave, that you would be fine - he would not leave.

 

We often think of work as a burden to bare - something one must suffer through to get to some desired end result. That lens is problematic. If you see work as the gift, and the outcome as secondary, then each day yields a reward. 

 

What I learned from my time at the market is that work - working - is a gift. It is something to be honored, appreciated.

Being useful, offering value, making a contribution - the value is in the work, more so than the prize.

We often think of work as a burden to bare - something one must endure to get a desired end result. This lens is problematic. If you see work as the gift, and the outcome as secondary, then each day yields a reward.