Monday, May 2, 2011

Room Service

Just Help- "If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; If you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate;" Verse 7

Step 1: Wash Water Tanks 
Step 2: Practice What You Preach 
Step 3: I Am Not The Boss 

Before I was old enough to drive, or work legally in the state of Texas, I had a car payment and a job.  My first car reminded me of a race car; it was a standard, and it went fast.  White, 4 doors-- a 94 Acura Integra.  At the time, 1994 didn't seem that old, and more importantly, it was mine.  

As a result of newly owning a car, I was in need of income.  My dad graciously decided to begin paying me for work. (Yes, begin. Child labor is popular on the farm.) And so, that is how I became the resident water tank washer of 2 feed yards in the Texas panhandle.  

For those of you who are not familiar with the term "feed yard", let me enlighten you.  A feed yard serves much like a hotel for cattle. They arrive in a rather large coach to stay in our luxurious pens, and essentially eat, drink, and be merry.  My presence in this happy little fairy tale resembles that of room service.  

 Exhibit: A. 
The cows I served weren't quite as small, or cute, for that matter.  It took me two and half hours to clean one feed yard's tanks.  I wore ratty old jeans with holes, a t-shirt or sweatshirt depending on the day (west Texas weather is about as predictable as in comes), my hair was folded into a messy knot on top of my head to combat the ever persistent breeze, and I wore rubber boots up to my knees in order to avoid sloshing manure seeping into my socks.  I marched with a large scrubbing brush in my hand, crawling through the fence into the pen. Cows taller than me looked up in curiosity, or maybe they had thoughts like, "Finally. It's been days, and they call themselves a 5-star feed yard?"  Cows are sassy like that. 

When I reached the water tank, positioned in the middle, I reached to the bottom to find the stopper.  It usually took great might to rip it out of the hole, and more often than not, I sprayed myself with its contents: manure, spit, moss, mud, grain, and who knows what else.  As the water drained, I scrubbed the sides of the tank until it was clean and white.  Then, I placed the stopper back in and let the water fill, crystal clear.  Lather, rinse, repeat. For every pen.   

On occasion, the cattle would decide to charge at me for no apparent reason.  This made my job even more fun.  At the end of my duty, I possessed a smell that took days to remove, dried manure grit in my teeth, and a rats' nest on my head.  For one feed yard's cleaning, two and a half hours of work, at minimum wage, I made 12 dollars.  It is not a stretch to say that I was at the bottom of the feed yard totem pole.  You simply could not find a worse job.  Did I mention my dad was the boss? 

When I read May's verse, and when I think about offering my life as a living sacrifice to God, I can't help but think about that feed yard job.  Just help: wash water tanks.  I want to help others in simple, and sometimes unpleasant, ways-- without recognition, power, or complaining.  

Washing water tanks wasn't a difficult job. It wasn't particularly great,  but someone had to do it.  

1 comment:

Patti Hatton said...

This actually brought tears to my eyes. Not because I am crying, but because I felt so sorry for you back then. I am so proud of the woman and teacher that you have become. And I am so glad that I don't ever have to smell your hands again!