The employees that worked in the Engineering and Maintenance Departments were close knit. Most were guys, most were white, and most were middle age. The majority had worked at the plant for at least twenty-five years.
What made this group so unique was the comradarie they had among themselves. If one of the Maintenance mechanics had a problem repairing a piece of equipment, another would be ready to assist. If one of the Project Engineers needed assistance, another would step up. This would ensure project completions were met and budgets were in line. The boss looked good because upper management's goals were met.
However, when Gloria was hired as a Planning Engineer, straight out of college, a paradigm shift. At least for this particular department. The company, overall, was entrenched with tradition, dating back two generations or so. Many of the factory workers had family that had worked at the plant for the past fifty years. Many were afraid of change, especially integration.
Yes, the environment was a little staid. Only one black worked there previously and he left, after 10 years, to take a job in the Production Department. Specific reasons were never given, but it was suggested that he felt more comfortable with a more 'open and accepting' group of co-workers.
Gloria was very insecure at the onset, but the boss continually reminded her that she was hired to do a specific job, and he was confident she could do it. With a degree in Industrial Engineering, and a minor in Organizational Behavior, Gloria was determined to excel, and her supervisor pushed her. And, more importantly, Gloria knew that with the Lord's help she could do all things.
Little did she knew, many of her colleagues were not used to a female, other than a factory worker or secretary, working in so close of a proximity. In fact, when Gloria visited a particular office or cubicle to gather budget information or project status, a few of the men would respond quite negatively. Some even said they didn't have time to talk, so come back later.
Before the age of emails and other technological advances, notes would be written and left on desks, reading something like, “Don, when you have time, please stop by my office, as I have to get some information on Project Genius. Thanks, Gloria.” Or, a telephone call would suffice.
But, did Don stop by? Usually, no. And the next day, Gloria would have to stop by his office again. Asking the same questions. Frustrating, but determined to complete the task at hand.
Through the years, however, Gloria became a pillar of strength for many. Despite sicknesses and firings, death and hirings, the staff evolved. New people were hired into the Engineering and Maintenance group. Often, younger, more professional and open-minded. Soon, Gloria became the 'go to' person for many.
As she approached twenty years with the company, opportunities arose to work with Shared Services and Procurement Departments. Gloria was a volunteer with the Factory Credit Union for the duration of her career. Many respected her counsel and advice, often sitting with her at lunch or breaks, to discuss a personal matter.
Gloria often told her colleagues, “I will pray that God works out this situation.” He often did. There were many testimonies and encouraging words of scripture discussed over the years.
When Senior Management made a decision to close the factory, several of the Maintenance and Engineering group were quite disturbed. Some to the point of despondency. How would they function without a job.? What would happen to their families?
In the end, after many received severance packages or accepted retirement packages, a feeling of resignation settled amongst the group. Gloria prayed for many, as well as for herself. The opportunity to share Jesus was becoming more frequent.
Gloria, and nearly 200 others, received a layoff package, as they did not yet qualify for retirement. Others simply moved on. A few were offered positions in another city or state, where plant operations remained in force.
Gloria felt like Moses in the beginning of his journey to free the Israelites from bondage. He told God that he had nothing to work with. The Lord said, “What is that in your hand?” Moses replied, “A staff.”
Moses used what God gave him to free God's people.
Gloria used what God gave her to complete the assignment.
*Based on a true story
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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