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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Will the real Uncle Joe please stand up?

OkSlick wrote a post that hit home with me. In his post he asks the question: "What defines who you/we are?"

Ask my mother who I am and she will no doubt wax poetic about what a fine son/man I am.
She is of course prejudiced towards me. I am her first born. Yet she will almost surely add that I haven't really lived up to my potential.

You will get differing answers from different folks who know me from various stages of my life.

There are a lot of people who only know me as a grocery man. Some who only know me as a piano or guitar player. Some know me only as Utah's son. Some don't even remember that my parent's even have a son that could be almost 46 years old. There are those who know me as a strong Christian man. Truth is that there was a time when my faith was stronger than it is right now.

I still find that people view me as younger than I really am. Even after having congestive heart failure and being around 50 lbs overweight I am considered to be in my 30's. That's well and fine unless someone is looking to be taken seriously in life. There are times when I desperately want to be taken seriously, but my reputation has preceded me. Such is the life of the court jester.

I have a need to look for the absurd in life to counter the sadness that surrounds us.

The most frustrated I have ever been is when after hearing me play the piano or guitar, or once when I played the lead role in a church play, well meaning folks would ask me:

"Where do you work?" They would always have a smile of expectation on their face. They were thinking, "He must be a teacher, lawyer, insurance salesman etc."

I seem to have let them down when I answered, "I am a produce manager".

More than once they were speechless. Working in a grocery store and liking it is evidently bottom of the barrel. Only for those who can't maintain a real job.

Let me tell you this about the grocery business. These folks are working their tails off so YOU can have food on your table. It is as much a business that focuses on making a profit as is banking. It may LOOK unimportant or easy to you, but there are people who are working in the grocery industry who are there because that is where God wants them to be. They may not necessarily be happy about working there either. Supermarket employees put up with an extraordinary amount of whining from the public. It's one of the side effects of capitalism. We have been spoiled as consumers by thinking we are always right because we choose where to spend our money. I used to gently remind customers who were unhappy because I couldn't order a special item for them (because of it's unavailability or being out of season) that we were blessed to have what we do have. The wrong thing to say to someone who is so spoiled and unappreciative of what they do have.

"Well, I'll never shop here again!" Fine, you shop somewhere else and I won't have to listen to your whining. My opinion is not going to be popular to those of you who make your living making people happy.

What defines who you are? If you are a Christian, then God's Words defines you. I guess even if you're not a Christian the Word defines you.

We have to wear a lot of hats in this life. You know what they are so I don't have to name them.

I just hope you're comfortable under your hat and nobody makes you feel guilty if you're hat doesn't live up to their opinion of what it should be.


Aunt Jo said...

Every job from a grocery store checker to the trash collectors to the medical office receptionist is a very important job. Imagine our life if we didn't have those trash collectors. Imagine our life if we didn't have the Roto Rooter Guy. Imagine our lives if we didn't have the produce guy or grocery store manager or truck driver.

I have a teaching degree and I work in a Medical office. I applied to every school in our area and didn't get a job. I prayed and prayed about it and you know what I ended up teaching? Children's Church at our old church. I prayed and God let me know I was doing exactly what He wanted me to do. It wasn't what I wanted but it mattered to Him and it mattered to the children I taught.

I know you were an instrument used by God to minister to people in the produce department. You counselled a lot of people through divorce, adultery, marriage,life choices, children, and general bad days. You helped a lot of people and they were glad you were there.

You are still valuable. You are contributing to the world two beautiful daughters who are learning from their father how to be treated by a man. You are teaching them very important lessons at home.

Yes, every job is valuable, and you Joe are valuable to us.

Seeker said...

It seems like people try to define who we are by what we do (for a living). But I think who we are is related more to how we live before God and men, in the position God has placed us.
(People can be hard to deal with, because we people are spoiled and selfish.)
PR keeps reminding me of the biblical command to do everything "as unto the Lord". So, if I keep that in mind, it's easier to keep a serving attitude (most of the time, anyway....)
I appreciate your serious side as much as your sense of humor. They're both good medicine.

OK Slick said...

Well Uncle Joe, you have made my day. IT isn't often that anyone takes to heart anything that I say. Try my next post on for size.

EmmaSometimes said...

aj, I don't want to imagine life without my Roto Rooter Guy. I feel dirty!!

I am so blogging about this...yes, gratuitous links will abound.

keesh said...

wow, amazing. I think we should not be defined by what we do as long as it is where God wants us. The grocery man is just as important as the local Doctor. Why wouldn't he be? It takes all kinds of people the make the world go round. I think you are a profound person who knows what it is to be a man of God.

keesh said...

After I posted I read the comments, Seeker hit the nail on the head.

Southeast Baptist Church said...


Anonymous said...

uncle mojo, you are a good guy. it doesn't matter what you do for a living. and most all of us can see that part of you, even though you try to hide behind humor. specially those of us who do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

did you meet AJ in the produce dept?

Ted said...

The problem is happening again...
I must have fruit!
Excuse me sir, are there any Christian raddish salesmen, I don't want a demon root.
We all live in a yellow squash
a yellow squash a yellow zuccinni.

Aunt Jo said...

Ted, are you a Beetle in disguise?

I am married to the Produce Guy The Produce Guy The Produce Guy I am married to The Produce Guy all day long ;o)

Anonymous said...

did someone do something to these people? they all sound cwazy, especially AJ and ted

ANP said...

I have known you my entire life. I have known you in all of your phases. I have never been disappointed in who you are. You are you. You are awesome.

Jamie Dawn said...

I see nothing negative about working in produce or being a janitor or any non-"doctor" type job.

The most important hat I wear is that of wife & mother. I guess that's two hats.

We all need to feel valuable and loved for who we are.

Jenn said...

I have worked behind counters for years and I know exactly what you mean about those people who say "I'm never going to shop here again!" And those are the most beautiful words they could say to you.

(I do have a lot of doodles of those customers, not just of cashiers.)

And I know what it feels like to tell someone what you do, and people look pretty unimpressed, and change the subject right away, or leave and find someone "more important" to talk to.

There are a lot of people doing prestigious jobs, who are not happy at all. You are more than what you do for a living... just listen to your wife.

Anne said...

Great Post Uncle Joe!!

Once I put on that Christian hat that's who I became. I hope it stays firmly planted on my head til the end.

In this world - I'm a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter a grand-daughter and hope to live long enough to be a mother-in-law and a grandmother. A Christian woman's roll is so important.

My goal:

Proverbs 31:10-31

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. 15 She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants. 25 Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: 29 "Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all." 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates. NKJV

Aunt Jo said...

Amen Annie!
That Proverbs woman sure is busy though!