Stefan sighed as he got into his car. It was 10:00 p.m., and the welcome end to a string of seven successive days at the grill in the deli. As he maneuvered out of the lot onto the state highway, he switched on the radio, and by the time he entered the on-ramp to the interstate, he paused his tuner adjustment at the “oldies” station.
As he circled the ramp and merged, he was struck at the sense of deja vu which hit him as the radio took him forty years back in time as Bachman Turner Overdrive delivered their’ top-40′ hit: “Takin’ Care of Business”. The sparse traffic and the cruise-control allowed his mind to channel to the days of his first job at the IHOP. Then, as now, he worked through weekends, predominately at night. Then, as now, he was driving a Chevrolet home to hurriedly shed a uniform smelling of dishwater and french fries; shower and relax in front of the television. Then, as now, he would enjoy the mindless respite of syndicated favorites on the television and be able to forget for a moment the duties of the next day.
He marveled at the temporal symmetry of his existence. Tomorrow, weather permitting, he would be mowing, edging and sweeping for his Mom. He would finish; and upon entering through the back door, would hear the timeless admonition from his mother to “wipe your feet!”. This chore done, he could now determine the agenda for the rest of his day off. Should he proceed to his mother-in-law’s to roto-till the garden? Or would it be better to mow his own lawn? Bachman-Turner-Overdrive didn’t seem to care, as long as he was “…takin’ care of business, and workin’ overtime“.
It was now four years since his Dad had passed; and barely one year since the loss of his father-in-law. As he approached his exit, he assessed the result of his decision 6 months ago to leave his position as a financial services representative. He had begun to write; his schedule was now more suited to the needs of his mother and mother-in-law; and his paycheck each week was a function of hours worked rather than an equation in (to him) ‘Chinese Algebra’, based on the size of his prospects’ IRA’s. He knew his ex-boss’s monthly calls to him were as much to see “how he was doing” as they were to keep him in the ‘loop’ as a possible producer for the firm. They had doubted his resolve to make so radical a change in career without missing the world of licensure; suits; call-lists and Garmin-directed travels over four counties. They called his decision “brash”. He regarded it as succumbing to a long-resisted urge to use his time and effort on works honoring his departed paternal figures by seeing to the health and well-being of their wives…. and their lawns.
The light changed to green at the end of the exit-ramp. “Tell them that you like it this way…” continued the ‘molden oldie’. He made the left turn and slowly glided through the suburban checkerboard of lawnscapes; convenience stores; gas stations; bars and pizza shops to his home. Now, as then, he would park the Chevrolet in its’ allotted spot which would allow others in the household to adhere to their work schedule unobstructed by his position in the driveway. Now, as then, he would change; allot himself the currently prescribed (in this household) portions of potato-chips and ginger-ale, and settle down to rest his weary feet and to steel his resolve for the mowing chores of the morrow. Now, as then, he would manually select a channel on the television (now, because the mandated HDTV converter required by his cable provider for his non-HD television rendered his remote useless; then, because there was no remote ). Now, as then, he would lose himself in the antics of Ed Norton, who, though employed in the “menial’ occupation of sewage worker, nevertheless was able to help his troubled friend Ralph address the issues of his frenzied existence.
As potato-chip crumbs amassed on his heaving, laughing belly, he realized that there was no shame in heeding the Spirit’s admonition to “honor thy father and mother”. There was no embarrassment in menial labor. There is no limit to the magic the Holy Spirit can work if one stops, regardless of age, to understand the true issues of our existences ….and to address them.
The ‘chore’ which mowing was forty years ago has become a tribute to men who shirked no menial labor and who suffered no dandelions on the greens of their fairways. Address the issues of the soul, and ‘business’ will take care of itself.