“Well, if I don’t get eaten by an alligator, I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.”
That was the marketing associate’s attempt at humor when we discussed her abbreviated schedule on Friday. She was just directing a photo shoot in the morning — but it was at a local lake known for its alligator population, thus her comment. I countered her humor in kind, knowing there was no real danger from the alligators.
“No, you can’t get eaten by an alligator,” I protested. “I don’t know enough yet.”
“Yes, you do!” she responded, cheerfully, not offended at all by my selfish reasoning. “So that settles it. You know enough, so if I get eaten by an alligator, everything’s OK.”
“No,” I disagreed.
I completely disagreed. As a newbie, I view my trainer and supervisor as “an ever present help in time of trouble,” and I was anticipating working without her presence with less than enthusiasm. She would be gone Friday morning and then the whole of the following week.
“I don’t know enough,” I pressed. “The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know.”
And with that thought quickly followed another, though unexpressed.
“My work life is so much like the Christian life.”
Over the weeks, my supervisor had praised me numerous times for the job I was doing. More than once she’d greeted me enthusiastically with “I’m so glad you’re here,” almost as if she were surprised I’d returned for more. The interns I supervised seemed to be warming up to me. My colleagues in the office were slowly introducing themselves, some saying they’d heard I’d jumped right in and was doing well. I loved what I was doing, and I’d been growing more and more confident in my position as a technical editor the past three weeks — even to the point of believing that I had some ideas that could make operations run more smoothly.
But that particular day had been tougher than usual at work for me — good overall, but with enough reminders that I am not yet perfect at what I do. It was just a moment (or two, or three) in which I saw I didn’t know everything or do everything perfectly. So by 5 p.m., I was ready to call it a day. Not a bad day. Certainly, a productive day. But a day that made me a little uncomfortable with myself and more dependent on following the Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) manual. In fact, it was a day in which work was a lot like the Christian life. (And I know I’m saying that as if it were a bad thing.)
I was beginning to understand that the more I know about my job, the more I realize I don’t know. Wisely, my boss didn’t just hand me the entire workload I will eventually carry. She gave me training; she handed me the printed manuals; she gave me space to read those manuals and get my bearings; she walked me through processes; and she let me set out on my own. Sometimes I asked a lot of questions, sometimes I timidly ventured into new territory, and sometimes I plunged ahead, thinking I knew what to do — only to find out I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.
The Christian life is like that.