Cheese & Salt

Sometimes I think it was all a dream.  Or maybe there was a hidden camera somewhere and I’m the star of a reality TV show in Austria.  Either way it was the worst job I’ve ever had.

I spent the summer of 1994 working in a cheese factory in Atlanta, Georgia.  Actually, it was more like a cheese room.  The cheese room belonged to a large food distributor and it was tucked away in the back of one of their big warehouses.  The room was very small and cold and there were no windows and the only door had to remain shut at all times.  The walls were all white, probably something like an insane asylum if it was the type of insane asylum where the patients were forced to slice and package cheese all day.  For most of the summer, I was the only male.  Everyone else was a middle-aged, disgruntled woman.  I think one of the women was named Flo.  If not, she should have been.

The lady in charge of the cheese room was very loud.  Her favorite thing to say was, “Well, I hate it!”

“And then he came downstairs and told me he wanted me to fry him some eggs so I just said, ‘Well, I hate it!'”

I’d spend every morning on my way to work parked in Atlanta traffic and thinking of the different ways that I’d hear the  Well I Hate It Phrase in the coming hours.  On my way home I’d try as hard as I could to get it out of my mind.

There were two other ladies who were younger than the others and closer to my age.  One was married to a man old enough to be her dad and she smoked like Bruce Willis in Die Hard.  She’d spend every day at lunch holding a cigarette in one hand and a sandwich in the other while her mouth alternated between chews, puffs and cursing her husband.  She’s probably the best person I’ve ever known at simultaneously talking, eating and blowing smoke out of the corner of her mouth.  Talent.

Oh, I almost forgot.  We all had to wear hairnets.

And it was the summer of the OJ Simpson trial so we had to listen to that on the radio all summer.

The thing I looked forward to the most every day was taking the old cheese boxes to the trash compacter at the other end of the warehouse so I could look at brown walls instead of white walls.  I think I got to go to the trash compactor three times that summer.  At least I had my dreams.

The summer of 1994 for me could best be summed up with the following words.

Cheese.

Hairnet.

Johnny Cochran.

I was never so happy for a summer to be over.

Your job may be infinitely worse than the one I had working in that cheese factory.  But if you’re a follower of Christ, your job is still just as important and just as much of a calling as the pastor, missionary and Bible college teacher.  There’s a good chance that there’s a lot of darkness around you.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  A bad job can be a great place for you to shine the light of Christ.

I wasted my opportunity but you don’t have to.  Stop working for the weekends and figure out how you can be a light.

But whatever you do, never buy Limburger cheese.  Take my word on this one.  I’m kind of an expert.

“When Christians begin to see that it is as godly to be a businessperson, lawyer, homemaker, artist, rubbish collector, doctor, or construction worker, as it is to be a missionary, evangelist, pastor, youth leader, or an employee of a Christian organization, they will once again become salt and light.  Once a young Christian woman realizes it is just as spiritual to sing at the Met as it is to sing in the church choir, we will begin to see a new generation of liberated Christians calling attention to their Maker and Redeemer.”  Michael Horton, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace