Stop and look

On the way to school today, StoryCorps was on NPR. Here’s how today’s story began…

At first glance, a posting for the job of bridgetender might not be the most attractive you’ve ever seen. For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the person at the controls of the Ortega River Bridge in Jacksonville, Fla., must sit in a tiny booth, opening and closing the bridge so boats can pass.

Sounds like an awful job, right?

“The pay’s horrible, the benefits are worse,” admits Barb Abelhauser, 51, a former bridgetender there, “but I have the most gorgeous view in the entire city. I mean, executives who make hundreds of thousands of dollars do not have my view. And I’m getting paid to stop and look.”

Barb goes on to tell us how much she loves her job. She is absolutely compelling. She remarks about the frailty of life, saying that if she were to die today, she wouldn’t have wanted to wake up thinking, “I don’t want to go to work.”

As I sat in my car, it dawned on me once again how privileged I am that I get to do what I do. I so related to Barb in that moment. Though our jobs may be different, we share an understanding that maybe we didn’t choose our careers…maybe they chose us.

We are also both in awe that we “get paid to stop and look”: she at this beautiful view, me at these incredible child-adults. We both get a glimpse into something holy.

Today I signed my contract to return to work full-time next year. My dear co-teacher warned/asked me, “This is it, then? You’re coming back now.”

“I can’t stay away,” I told her. “I’m just not happy not teaching.”

“I know,” she laughed. “It’s what you were created to do. If you didn’t teach, you wouldn’t be you.”

Whether I have a hard day or a fun day; a day I miss my kid like crazy, or a day that flies by–I know that I’m doing what I was created to do. I know that I’m fulfilling the desire of my heart…


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