for release Friday July 29, 2005
by Melodie Davis
Most of us do not wait well. My daughter had a tough time getting a job this summer, between her first two years of college. Whatever happened to the grand tradition of hiring college kids for the summer? She applied at least 15-18 places, was given interviews at three, including a major discount store chain that I assumed would hire just about anybody. It appeared that no one was interested in taking on a willing-to-work, mature 19-year-old for the four long months of most college kids’ vacations. How many employers hire people who last for much less time than four months? Besides, she’d be ready and pre-trained to work during the busy holiday break if they wanted her when she came back home in early December.
I prayed hard for a job for her. I think the wait was even harder on me than it was on her. How is a kid supposed to help finance an education these days? True, it is more important for breadwinners to get jobs. I feel sorry for the many unemployed in our community. But after 6 weeks with no luck, and applying to 3-4 different jobs a week, we were all discouraged. Why didn’t even the discount store want her?
Finally, finally, an interview and job came through at a store just opening up. Could she start Wednesday? She worked 5 straight days, almost a 40-hour week. The second week she got in almost as many hours. For anyone who has worked part time at “store” work, you know the major challenge after getting a job is “getting enough hours” to make it worth your time. I began to realize that maybe we should be glad she didn’t get hired by some of the other places, where she surely would have been working only 15-20 hours a week. She quickly made up for lost time (and wages). We were very, very grateful.
Sometimes waiting brings unexpected dividends. Someone noted that many years after their long struggle with infertility and finally adopting a son and daughter who seemed perfect for them, they realized that if their path had gone differently, they wouldn’t have ended up with the children that they did. It is always interesting to contemplate: well, if I had married Joe instead of John, I wouldn’t have had the kids I have, and so on.
Patience is a virtue, mother always said, but how do we get patience? Some people are naturally more patient, but sometimes we learn patience through experience and practice. We can also learn from our mistakes. At some point in the long six weeks my daughter discovered that one of the phone numbers for one of her references no longer worked. Her former boss had moved. How many potential employers had called the wrong number and thought she had given a fake reference? Hopefully she also learned much about applying for jobs and handling interviews. She learned to do the uncomfortable task of going back to selected places where she had applied, to let them know she was still interested. Maybe these experiences in being assertive will come in handy in the future for her.
Being patient about finding a mate for life is also a virtue, which is another hard lesson for many of us! When you’re young and fall rapidly in love, you think this is the person you’re meant to marry. Now! Or you consummate the relationship thinking, we’re getting married anyway, and then something happens and regrets ensue. Actually, these days, we all know, kids are apt to hook up without even wanting a long term relationship or marriage, but that’s another subject.
In the opposite situation, when no one suitable is coming along, sometimes we think we have to hurry up and find someone, anyone, without waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right, or considering that maybe we’re meant to remain single.
Finding a lifelong partner is well worth the wait. Testing out that relationship, such as seeing if it holds up over time, is also a virtue. What is an extra six months or year or two over the course of a lifetime, like 50 or more years of marriage?
Hindsight can tell us these things. Looking ahead is something we long to do, but can’t. But hearing the voices of those who’ve gone before us, whether it is looking for a job, longing for a mate, wanting to have children, or struggling through the loss of a loved one, can help us.
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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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