Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Mr. Cellophane

I started a cleaning job today.

After a long time lounging around as a student, or unemployed (which is kinda like being a student), it was wonderful to knuckle down and spend an entire day working. I know I've posted before about my inability to get my head around some parts of work, but when you've got a mop, a bucket, and 2000 sq feet of floor to clean the conceptual problems fall away and your body takes over. It's wonderful. I'm now aching in a dozen different places and am now re-acquainted with muscles I'd forgotten existed, but I couldn't be happier.

Or, I almost couldn't be happier.

Something I noticed as I went about learning/fulfilling my duties today, was how different people respond to my presence. Some would say "Hey" and greet me like a normal human being, but they were in the minority (I counted--it rounded out to about 1 in 12); another minority were people who were obviously busy and probably too caught up in their business to realise I was there (also about 1/12); but by far the largest group (all the remaining--5/6ths!) was the group who ignored me.

I'm not talking about strangers ignoring other strangers they pass on the street kind of ignoring; I'm talking about people making what seemed to be a conscious effort to 'not see' me. Faces that where laughing and smiling when talking to a friend suddenly became blank when I stepped into view with my mop. People who smiled back at me stopped smiling and stiffly turned away when I turned and they could see that I had been cleaning the glass. While riding an elevator with a rag and can of chrome polish a lady stepped in, smiled and jovially inquired if it was 'time to clean the car'; but on learning that I was 'one of the cleaners' she fell silent and then (after an extremely awkward 20 second ride) hurried away as though the lift were about to catch alight.

Of course, it's altogether possible that I am misjudging these people; that I'm reading far more into this than is really there.

But I don't think so.

Charles Spurgeon writes that:
I think you may judge of a man’s character by the persons whose affection he seeks. If you find a man seeking only the affection of those who are great, depend upon it he is ambitious and self-seeking; but when you observe that a man seeks the affection of those who can do nothing for him, but for whom he must do everything, you know that he is not seeking himself, but that pure benevolence sways his heart.
It's my hope that this time working in the margins--as the ever-present, lowly janitor--will be fruitful. Not only in allowing me to relearn what good, hard, work is; but also allowing me to develop a heart for those who tend to be relegated to the footnotes, if they're noticed at all. If the Master could do it, why not I?