Jobs That Never Die


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It’s just her now.

The two of them built the retail business together over 35 years. Now she counts the days since one of the nation’s most prestigious hospitals could not help him and he died.

She counts the days since he’s been gone and when the store is empty she cries.

He was the spine of the business. Back of the house. What it takes to do retail and do it really, really well. That feel for the buying that makes the selling possible. She was front of the house. Those hearty, smiling, hand clapping welcomes, as every guest in the store became a friend of the family. No monotone “Can I help you” here. She instead would greet the stronger with a warm and all encompassing “I’m here for you.”

It’s just her now.

The air conditioning sputters out. Street folks wander in the front door that she always keeps open. One grabs a piece of merchandise out of a customer’s hands and runs. Four hours later the cops come by. I ask some cops on bikes to look in on her.

The retail hours are long. We help with talking through hiring. Maria brings cookies—her bakery ministry. The crushing summer heat eases up for a moment as she rings up a sale and there is just the trace of an autumn wind coming through the open door into the store.

And she keeps going. Terrified she won’t make it, but she keeps the hours, fends off the suppliers he used to control and pours out thanks for those who walk in the store with even the smallest act of kindness.

What makes a job that doesn’t die? First, it’s showing up. It’s carrying on. And she does that in a way that would have made him both proud and relieved.

Second, it’s “practicing stewardship.” Taking care of something larger than one’s self. This little store in the middle of the sprawling, hard and often scary city that always has an open door. Even when it’s closed, it’s open. So a man from some far away country comes in, and buys a soulful amber necklace. And after the sale is done, she says to him, she with the job that will never die, says, “May I give you a crystal?” The man’s face goes puzzled but he says “Sure.” And she unlocks the display and grabs a small handful of golden stones. “Here,” she says, “this is the one I can feel. This one is for you. And today I’m taking this other one for myself. These are Golden Healer quartz. They enhance joy and peace. Hold a Golden Healer to connect with the light of the universe. Golden Healers clear blockages and imbalances for multi-level healing. Its energy is both powerful and soothing.”

The man holds the gift. He’s never believed in this kind of thing. But he is still for a moment and he can feel something. Something different. Something peaceful. He smiles and says “Thank you.”

And in that thanks is the stewardship, the taking care of something larger than her.

In that “thank you” is a job that will never die.

13 Responses to “Jobs That Never Die”

  1. Duncan McEwan Says:

    Telling the story is a job that never dies. Thank you.

    • chicagoguy14 Says:

      Duncan thanks for reading and the comment. So true. I hope folks can read this and think about the stories in their own lives that never die.

  2. toritto Says:

    Nicely done Roger. We are all stewards of our own lives.

    Best regards from Florida.

  3. Tom Cordle Says:

    Bean-counters will never understand this sort of devotion to a business, in part because they lack the ability to measure loyalty. But I fear it’s also the case that many among their number are also tragically lacking in human emotion. Thus did these emotional illiterates curse us with down-sizing, off-shoring and outsourcing; and in the process, destroy whatever was left of loyalty in corporate America. Well, you may not be able to quantify loyalty, but having a friend or an employee you can count on is a treasure beyond measure.

    • chicagoguy14 Says:

      And those “treasures beyond measures” seem to get more and more important with each passing year!

  4. Paul Haider Says:

    This is one of those pieces that creates a little bit of homesickness in me for Chicago. Yet, I am still content in being an expatriate who rejected Trump’s America in favour of England’s pseudo-socialism. Off course, a little bit of socialism is good for a small business that can’t compete with the corporations and big businesses. Come to think of it, capitalism sucks!

    • chicagoguy14 Says:

      Paulie–If the piece promoted a bit of homesickness than the piece did its work of engaging the reader in the story. So that’s good! We are just starting to come into autumn, my favorite time here at home. It’s been a real joy for Maria and I to get to know the lady in the store. She’s holding her own. She doesn’t feel it of course, but she is competing. She’s also gifted us with a mission. As an immigrant (like pretty much all of us) I’m not sure how much she thinks about capitalism, I do know she practices it. As for the clown car horrifics of trump; thank God its not his America yet. I think the best advice I’ve heard is on managing him is “pay no attention to what he says.Pay attention to what he does. That’s the real danger and shame. So glad you are doing well. Stay in touch!

  5. Tom Dickinson Says:

    What is the name of the store? What does she sell?

    Give her a vacation….mind the store for a few days. Farmers always say that’s the best gift…

    Thanks Roger

    TD

    • Paul Haider Says:

      I am hoping that the wonderful writing of Chicago Guy will never die! May the words continue to flow like beer from the tap at the Cubby Bear across the street from Wrigley Field.

  6. chicagoguy14 Says:

    And its almost autumn. Chicago at its finest!

  7. pastorcarol22 Says:

    Catching up on my summer reading now that it’s grown cold outside…love, love, LOVE this!! This piece is a Golden Healer!!!

  8. chicagoguy14 Says:

    Thanks Pastor Carol! Good news is that the “Rock Lady” (as we call her is slowly getting better at coping with life. She’s healing.

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