Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Your Life Could Depend on It

By Sarah Skochko

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
–Annie Dillard

I was waiting for my chalupa in the drive-through when I saw a sign on the back door:

an open metal door with a small window in the middle and a yellow sign on the inside that reads "Danger!! Never open this door after dark. Always look before you open this door. Your life could depend on it!!" The same text is also printed smaller in Spanish.
DANGER!!
NEVER
open this door after dark
ALWAYS look before you open this door
YOUR LIFE COULD DEPEND ON IT!!

One of my first jobs was at Wendy's, and I remember having to watch the video about what to do in an armed robbery situation. We were taught where the escape latch was on the inside of the walk-in freezer. This inadvertently made armed robbery seem like the more attractive career path; certainly it seemed more profitable, but had all things been equal I'd still rather be on the outside of the freezer than in it.

Nobody should die at their job, but it seemed especially crummy to be risking my life for (at that time) $6.35 an hour. It was tiring and hectic work, and it came with duties I would have never imagined before working there. Sometimes, giant tropical spiders would jump out of the crates of potatoes. Once, it was a scorpion. Whose job was it to catch the scorpion?

I worked with a married couple who had immigrated from Iraq and who had three small children at home. In their old country, she had been a doctor; he had been an engineer. I still think of them whenever I hear the argument that if “unskilled” workers want to get paid more, they should get an education and find a better job.

The back door at the Taco Bell reminded me once again that there is no such thing as unskilled labor, and everyone who works behind a cash register or flat top or fryer deserves to be paid well for the work they do. The hours and days of a human life have value beyond measure.

Prayer

God in Heaven, be with us now as always in our struggle, and speak Your mercy and compassion into the hearts of our oppressors.