I think I've mentioned that I work at Sears as a large appliance sales associate. That's NOT WHO I am. I hate the job. Don't ask me why I do it. That's a whole different post. But it is important for you to know that I work on commission. If I don't sell, I don't make money. And if I am not pacing the floor in the department of the store, I can't
I have a co-worker--I'll withhold his real name just in case he is innocent of my accusations, but I'm quite sure he is not, so we'll just call him Pavlov--who loves to get me out of the department and away from any potential customers. He's been successful more than once. The first time he committed such a dastardly deed--shame on him. His repeated offences--well--*
One other thing you need to know about Pavlov: his wife makes some really yummy, and I mean REALLY YUMMY homemade caramels. And he brings these things to work.
A few evenings ago, Pavlov and I had to "close" together. Anybody ,including Pavlov, that has ever closed up shop with me knows that I don't like to drag my feet. When the front door locks at 9:00 p.m. I want to be ready to walk out the back at 9:01. (If the manager will let me, but it has not happened yet.) Co-workers also know that if they decide to piddle around and not participate in closing duties that I will do them all by myself, just so I can get out of there and hurry home.
There are several closing duties that can go undone and unnoticed by management, but one that can't is the closing of the cash registers. Obviously.
When a register closes down, it prints out a closing receipt. If there is no paper, or "tape" in the little printer, the register won't close down, and if the register won't close down, I can't go home. That's why, when Pavlov walked up to me with a helpless and sad look on his face and said, "Lavonda, do you know where there might be some more register tape? I can't find any. ANYWHERE!" I quickly and without thought replied, "Sure. I'll go get some." (Pavlov has worked at Sears over 20 years. Strange that he doesn't know where they keep the new rolls of register tape don't ya think?)
That little errand took me off the floor for several minutes even though I went at a high trot. When I returned with a half dozen rolls of paper, Pavlov was closing a sale. He grinned as I, out of breath, rushed past him on my way to load a roll into the disabled register and finish up the closing chores.
After his customers left the store, he pulled a zip lock bag out of his pocket and so sweetly offered me one of his wife's YUMMY caramels.
Okay, you are probably way ahead of me here, but be patient with me. Self-discovery sometimes take a while.
It wasn't until I was home, sound asleep in my bed, that revelation, like a bucket of cold water in the face, happened. As I slept, the events of that day replayed on the big screen of my sleeping brain, as did several other instances in which Pavlov had done something to take advantage of WHO I am and then tried to "reward" me with something. Sometimes his wife's YUMMY caramels, sometimes a meaningless compliment, sometimes a useless piece of advice. (The compliments and advice never make my mouth water, but those caramels...)
Suddenly out of sleep I was yanked when I shouted to myself, "He's treating you like a dog!"
Yeah, Pavlov has figured out my temperament. He has observed my involuntary reflexes. He gives the command, I obey, and then he offers a reward. --*Shame on me.
So what have I discovered about myself? Yes, I'd make someone a pretty good pet.
- I do what ever I can to help people even when they mistreat me or take advantage of me. (I obey commands.)
- I'm slow to recognize when someone is taking advantage of me because I don't take advantage of others. (I come back, wagging my tail after I've been kicked.)
- Apparently I like rewards. (especially if the reward is a hunk of homemade caramel)
- I don't make a mess in the floor. (But that has nothing to do with this post.)
Then the Holy Spirit spoke silently yet so certainly, "But that's not WHO you are. You are made in the image of God with a heart bent toward grace. You are a reflection of Jesus Christ, an obedient servant who does what's right, no matter what others do to you. You are filled with, yes, God's Holy Spirit, a helper. And remember those fruits: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?"
So what will I do the next time Pavlov does something to get me off the floor or takes a customer from me? I'll probably, as usual, act instinctively, without thought. I will help, serve, minister, and do what is right--with grace and kindness--because that's who I am.
But when he pulls those caramels out of his pocket and my mouth starts to water, I'm going to firmly say, No! Thank! You! (I'll wait for my reward.)