This time last year I was working at my first ever fast food, correction, quick service restaurant. I feel like sometimes God allows us to experience certain things, not just for those watching, but for us to also see the transforming work He’s done in us. 10 years prior, 2008, I remember being so angry that I was asked to make copies, file papers, pick up Starbucks & order food for meetings. I mean, I was as a college graduate. I literally said (to myself, not my boss), “I didn’t go to college to file papers or order food.” Even though I liked the company I worked for, I hated being an assistant because I felt like I deserved better. 4 months in, I was ready to quit. I tried so many times to leave that job to become an Academic Advisor, but no doors would open, and I remained an assistant for a total of 5 years.
Fast forward 10 years later (2018), I’m working as a substitute teacher (a story for another time) and needed a summer job to hold me till the school year began. The opportunity at Chick-fil-A opened so wide, I won’t even write the details here because it didn’t make sense. I thought the door was opening for one thing, but it ended up being something else. I worked through the summer, and when the school year started back up, I kept both jobs – substitute teaching in the day time & Chick-fil-A at nights. I remember seeing some of my students in the restaurant looking so confused. At one point, I overheard one young boy tell his friend “that’s Ms. Olear” and his friend completely dismissed it, as if I was just a look alike. Things got really interesting when I started working side by side with one of my high school students. So I was Ms. Olear in the daytime & Laura at night. Many of my coworkers thought I was somewhere between 19-24 years old, but when they asked and I told them my age, it usually followed with “why are you here?” (After the shock wore off.) I couldn’t fully explain it, but I felt such a sense of peace being there, and I knew I wasn’t there just for me.
Some people who knew me weren’t surprised at all that I was an MBA graduate working trash & clean up duty (utilities) next to teenagers. Some people were very concerned that I had fallen so low. So my response was that I felt like my presence there was teaching someone that you are never too above to serve or work anywhere, clean, or take out the trash – even in a public setting. Many of the college students reminded me of me when I was their age – ambitious and filled with so many good desires, but they also got to see in me that there is absolutely no shame if you get to your 30s (or 40s or 50s or 60s) and need to push the restart button. I had the chance to watch & learn servant leadership from an amazing owner, laugh with coworkers, and comfort strangers who came in for a quick bite but were visibly weighed down by their circumstances. I learned to ask a person how they were doing, and sincerely listen, before I jumped to conclusions & judge their attitude. Even though all my bosses/supervisors were younger than me, I never once felt better than them. I just remember thinking, “where was Chick-fil-A when I was in college?” The God reminded me that my heart and attitude back then thought food service was beneath me, so it wouldn’t have mattered if they were opened. My time here was such a growing season for me. I was genuinely surprised how long I lasted, and missed working there when my schedule no longer allowed me to stay.
What made me laugh was how in 10 years I went from feeling humiliated that I was asked to file papers and get coffee, to having complete peace & joy with cleaning restaurant tables and trays. It really was my pleasure to serve. I didn’t know it at the time, but what (to some) looked like I hit rock bottom was the testing & revealing of my transformed heart in preparation for the season God was about to bring me into this year! #believenew