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Compensating for a lack of skills

Faith & Inspiration

I believe it was the day I sliced through the cord of her second electric hedge trimmer that my landscaper boss told me, “Boy, you’re an expensive employee.” That was in 1999, the year my first husband died. I didn’t last long after that. I wasn’t fired, exactly, but soon Lynn decided that rather than be in business for herself she would work at a local nursery. I like to think I’m not entirely responsible for the death of her career dream.

Now that I work at a restaurant, I realize I do not necessarily have the natural endowment for that job, either. Restaurant people are a special kind of people—like showbiz people. My husband, who was a chef for most of his working life, tells me the best waitresses are strong ESFJs. (David is also a student of the Myers-Briggs personality test.)

I admire everything about ESFJs but am their opposite on every count: Introversion (versus Extroversion), Intuition (versus Sensing), Thinking (versus Feeling), Perceiving (versus Judging). If we could choose our personalities off the rack, I would choose the combination that enables food service people, actors, coaches, and others like them react and solve immediate problems. But God assigns gifts as seems best to Him (Ephesians 4:8; Acts 17:26), and it is folly to complain (Isaiah 29:16).

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It’s possible that I should not have taken this restaurant job at all. (What a second-guessing, introspective INTP thing to say!) But lacking the raw materials that would make life with an apron and order pad easier, I try hard to compensate by excelling on some of the basics:

  • Show up early.
  • Leave cell phone in off position.
  • Look for ways to help.
  • Be friendly.
  • Don’t ask for a drink.
  • Go the extra mile.
  • Be satisfied with my pay.
  • Study the menu at home.

(Some of you reading this may have a field day with my psychological chart based on these disclosures. Knock yourself out.)

So far the basics seem to be working. I was apologetic about my first week of mess-ups. I felt guilty being paid for making mistakes. My boss was kind, and replied with words that gave me insight into why I’m still around. “It’s OK,” he said, “You’re a good person—and you live close by.”

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.

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