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In the Service of Others
Engineering is my passion, particularly engineering manufacture (making stuff from metal) & I love the smells & sounds associated with a workshop.
I enjoy the banter & I love the feelings borne from pulling together to get that order out on time – the teamwork & feeling of belonging.
I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that my first job in an engineering company was as a labourer & this job included making the drinks for everyone at break times & doing the sarnie run, remembering everyone’s order & their quirky requirements.
I also cleaned the toilet blocks which were used for cleaning our hands of oil, grease & dirt as well as the usual toilet stuff, & despite the horrors that you may imagine in a job like this, I loved my role, I sometimes wished I’d advised them of a healthier sarnie choice, but I loved my job!!
I was 16 and I was given the responsibility to make sure that the welfare needs of the skilled workforce were met.
How cool was that!!
When they arrived at the canteen for a break, they didn’t need to think about what they would do next. Their ordered food & preferred brew was waiting for them at their favourite table along with their newspaper.
When they went to wash their hands or go to the toilet, they didn’t find the facilities as they’d left them, they were clean, fresh & inviting, & by playing my small role in making their ‘off work’ time more relaxing the workforce were more productive.
I didn’t feel belittled or hard done to rather I felt proud to be in the service of others & undertook my job to the best of my ability, often getting in early & staying late to make sure I could fit everything I needed to into my day.
In between my welfare role I carried out a range of jobs on the shop floor. Cleaning up when a job had been completed making room for the next job. Fetching & carrying for the skilled workers, freeing them up to do more of their work. Cleaning & putting tools away, again meeting the quirky requirements of the tool owners.
All this stuff made me feel part of the larger team & I was determined from the start to make sure I did everything asked of me to the best of my ability.
I didn’t have any engineering skills to offer the company, but I could serve those that did in a way that I was capable of whilst gleaning information, knowledge & skills from them at the same time.
I did the work because I enjoyed being in a job & part of something bigger & unbeknown to me at the time, I was learning the disciplines of work, the skills needed to be part of a larger team, respect for others, the job & the customer & the value of contributing one part of a larger whole.
I did go on to benefit from an apprenticeship working alongside those I served & within a few short years my sarnie appeared on my favourite table at break times & not only did I value this service, but I felt proud to know that I once did that too.
My skills & knowledge have continued to develop over the intervening years, but I’ve never lost the ability to undertake any & all the roles I’ve learned & I am still one contributary part of a larger whole in service of each other & all those we come into contact with.
We’re all in the service of someone but we don’t always recognise the privilege of this position.
I do sometimes forget the importance of my service to others when I’m busy with stuff, but I will never forget the benefits that my service provides to those around me.
I hope you have a great week.