Restocking the Pantry
My first summer job was for my father, who owned a small construction company. I was his “go-for”. I did what ever he told me to do. I pumped gas for the trucks and filled in the chits, cleaned out old storage spaces that were filled with spiders, dust, and outdated office supplies, and I prepared the company payroll sheet under the tutelage of Thelma, the office secretary. I learned that the smell of gasoline lingers on your hands for hours if you spill it, that my father was somewhat of a pack rat, and to take my time when manually filling in figures on spread sheets. If the numbers didn’t add up properly, I was required to sit there until they did. On one instance, after 45 minutes of recalculations, I just wanted to hand over the $.02 deficit to my Dad, but instead, I had to sit there until I found my mistake! I think that cupboard had an endless supply of tough love.
After graduating from secondary school, I worked for several summers at a sleep-away camp, sponsored by the Salvation Army, for underprivileged youth. This rustic facility, complete with cabins and a large mess hall, was built around a small lake in northern New Jersey. My own treasured childhood memories and my affection for children easily stocked my shelves for that job. I started as a Unit leader and rose to the position of Program Director. Each June I looked forward to seeing the eager campers return from their crowded Harlem neighborhoods.
In my final year of college I felt a need to get into the “real world” so I took an entry-level position at the Public Defender’s Office in Philadelphia. When I was not answering the phone in a hot, cramped, windowless third floor office space, I was using my Spanish skills to provide translations for the final statements of potential inmates before they hopped on the blue converted school bus heading to Graterford Prison. Yep, this was the “real world” all right, but I did not want it to be mine!
After college I landed a long-term substitute job teaching high school Spanish. But alas, it was only for one year. I barely got a chance to unwrap all of my expensive college ingredients in my cupboard. So back to school I went to once again fill up my pantry with some new skills. I graduated from the Philadelphia Paralegal Institute and became a commercial litigation paralegal in a center city law firm. More containers in the cupboard. More knowledge to store for future use. The shelves were getting crowded.
As a newlywed I moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where I continued my legal profession at Armstrong World Industries working on asbestos claims. But a few years later I joyfully switched gears. It was at this point that I started my most precious job ever, that of motherhood. I was more than ready to start a family and I felt very comfortable in that role. My cupboard was overflowing with buckets of love. It will forever be my most important job and the one for which I hope to be remembered.
After the children were in middle school I felt a need to be productive again outside of the house so I ventured back into my alternate profession, teaching, where I stayed for twenty-five more years. Experience now filled up the top shelves. But there was always a space for additional new and improved techniques and trends that invariably popped up each year.
After more than four decades on and off in an assortment of workplaces, I am ready to formally retire. Here comes another opportunity to restock the pantry!
First I need to clean out the expired products that I will no longer need. Out goes the 5:30 am alarm wake-up call. Goodbye blue and white vinyl lunch bag! Adiós Spanish lesson plans and worn-out briefcase. Hasta la vista red pens!
Now I need to figure out what ingredients will make up the perfect recipe for my new stage in life. Here are the pantry items that I currently have on my list:
1. A large can of adventure. There are so many things that I want to do and see.
2. A big box of gratitude to remind me of the many wonderful experiences that I was afforded so far.
3. A carton of generosity to dig into as I can now pay it forward.
4. A pouch of spontaneity to encourage me to take advantage of the moment and just “go with the flow”.
5. A huge package of attentiveness. I am used to being the talker. Now I need to be the listener and let others talk.
6. A jar of reconstituted curiosity to remind me that I am a life long learner. I can take it anywhere and just add water.
I think those items should be sufficient to get me started on my transition to this life-altering event. But, if you have any advice, I am open to suggestions. There is still a little shelf space left.