The Hunt for Red Jobtober 3: White & Nerdy & Inner City Youth

I watched Mary Poppins for the first time. It was a prerequisite of sorts. See, my wife and I we’re going to see Saving Mr. Banks at the cheap theatre, and though I grew up watching TV with a cupboard full of VHS tapes, Mary Poppins never once stopped by my house. “A spoonful of sugar” is a lot of sugar. That’s all I’m going to say.

Okay, I’ll say a little more. While watching Poppins, I realized that I am a Bert of sorts. In the film, Bert (Dick Van Dyke) never seems to be doing the same thing twice. He has four different jobs: one-man band, chalk-artists, chimney sweep, kite salesmen. He’s an unpredictable cockney, and I couldn’t help but love him.

SIDE NOTE: Saving Mr. Banks was a wonderful picture. You see it?

As the blog title suggests, I’ve had another “vocational realignment.” I’ve pulled a Bert (awkward), working where I never have before: the inner-city.

White Boys Can’t Hump

Last semester, I had a job at Wegmans (a New York grocery store chain) making coffee in their “Buzz” cafes. Wegmans is a great place to work and shop. There’s a strong sense of local pride that permeates off the walls, and it makes you feel like you’re apart of something special. While the coffee itself was not very good (Northwest coffee snob, ova-heer!), the job was a good one.

A new job opened up in a social program that works with inner-city youth, encouraging them to graduate high school and go to college. Yes, coffee can be a worthwhile vocation, but bad coffee is bad coffee, and I needed something a little more meaningful. So I learned about the program. I realized it would be like mentoring, like working in a youth group again (which I loved!), minus the cheesy Christian songs and dealing with “visionary” pastors and elders. Sounded absolutely wonderful to me. (more…)

Dancing with Confidence, Tripping Over the Shoes of Fear

Upon walking out of a Wegmans the other night—a Rochester based grocer Megan and I have come to fall in love with—we observed ferocious, grey clouds pouring into town from every direction, pari passu, slowly and ominously withering the last of our daylight. Directly above us were some stars, a few clouds, a slight breeze, but nothing more. It was peaceful.

That’s how I feel now. I’m entering “Calm before the storm” mode. That’s what I’m choosing to call it, anyway. Right now, life is serotinally peaceful; I know it wont last long, and that’s okay. Classes will start and homework will pile. It’s what I signed up for.

Around me are weathered students, all of whom waiting for the storm to begin. As a Junior, I’ve seen some weather too; however, I still doubt myself. I don’t know why.

Like an iced-kicker, I psych myself out of the confidence I know I possess.

Philosophy Steve

The other day, over the telephone, my uncle said something that stuck with me. He said “Kevin, the unknown fools us.”

I stopped him in the middle of his next sentence: “Steve, that was deep, man.”

It’s true, isn’t it? The unknown fools us. It grabs ahold of our fears and lies to us; it calls us names and exploits our insecurities. Call it what you want—a lack of control, a lack of confidence, whatever the insecurity may be—the unknown seeps in and plants fear.

My confidence moved me to the other side of the North American continent in pursuit of the best education I could attain. So yes, I possess confidence. I’m no Ron Burgandy, but you know, I’m getting there. (It’s all in the mustache?)

Yet, truth be told, my doubts creep in. Butterflies show up from time to time. They fly around in my stomach, sometimes regressing into caterpillars, causing me to cowardly hide underneath fallen leaves.

Three Important Reminders

  1. Insecurities are not concrete, but a fluid which evaporates with wisdom and experience. Don’t define yourself by your temporal troubles.
  2. Fear is a great motivator and a terrible bed-mate. Keep her off the pillow and away from your dreams.
  3. “The unknown fools us,” but only if you let it. Lead the dance and kick off the shoes of fear.

Whether we want it to or not, most major decisions (changes) require a little uncertainty, a toe-to-toe dance with the unknown. What if, instead of running away, we tried to lead the dance?

I’ve never been a good dancer, but I guess I can give it a shot.

How about you?