Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)
TITLE: Let Your Light Shine
By Ann Menschel
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“The deadline was three o’clock today yet you’re still working on the Greeley Project. What’s the hang up?” roared production manager Chet Adams. Several workers began to speak simultaneously. Adams interrupted. “I don’t want to hear excuses. I just want results. If you can’t handle the project, I’ll find some people who can. The completed proposal better be sitting on my desk at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.” Picking up his briefcase, he stomped out the door.
Silence hung in the room for a moment. Then the buzz began. Jim Thornton shook his head in disbelief. By working twelve hour days for the past two weeks, the team had completed their part. They were waiting on cost estimates from outside companies over which they had no control. Two years into this job, Thornton sometimes wondered if it was for him. Today was definitely one of those days. “What a creep!” he said loudly.
“You got that right,” a co-worker agreed.
Lupe Rodriguez, standing beside her janitorial cart, resumed her duties with a sigh, saddened that bosses could be so cruel and demanding toward their employees. She surveyed the staff seated at desks piled with papers, computer screens filled with documents she didn’t pretend to understand. Many of the workers were not much older than Miguel, her son. She couldn’t envision him in this job -- putting up with Mr. Adam’s tirades. Miguel’s disrespectful attitude toward her seemed to grow day by day.
She emptied the trash can at Thornton’s desk. “That was full when I came in this morning,” Thornton informed her.
Without making eye contact, Lupe replied, “I’m so sorry. I must have missed it last night. It won’t happen again, Mr. Thornton.” With a “whatever” shrug, Thornton turned back to his computer screen.
“Don’t worry about it, Lupe. He seldom works hard enough to fill a trash can in one day,” said the handsome thirty-something man at the next desk.
Lupe’s face lit up as she turned to Mr. Evers, her favorite employee in this workroom. His bright blue eyes danced as usual as he teased Thornton about his work production. “What a pleasant man,” she thought. “Oh that my Miguel could be such a man.”
Thornton turned to Evers. “How in the world are we going to get that proposal on Adams’ desk by tomorrow morning? He is completely unreasonable. Besides, I have plans for tonight.”
“It’ll be okay. Someone above is putting pressure on him and we’re next in the food chain. Let’s call the companies we’re waiting on and apply a little polite pressure. They’ll come through. We’ll be ready by morning,” assured Evers. Grumbling, Thornton picked up the phone.
Unlike Adams, Lupe couldn’t recall Evers being short tempered or critical of anyone, although he loved to tease. He reminded her of Sandy, her neighbor. Sandy greeted Lupe every day, asking about her boys and her job and sharing delicious desserts. She frequently invited Lupe and her family to go to church with her. Sandy said she was a Christian and wanted Lupe to learn about God, but Lupe made excuses not to attend. Perhaps Mr. Evers was a Christian as well, explaining why he was always so kind. Maybe there was something to this Christian business. Perhaps he could advise her on how to handle Miguel.
Taking a deep breath, Lupe timidly asked, “Mr. Evers, are you a Christian?” Overhearing her question, Thornton turned to stare at Evers.
Evers laughed. “A Christian? Goodness no. I don’t need God in my life. I can take care of myself. What makes you ask?”
“You remind me of someone I know who is a Christian, kind and considerate. I was hoping if you were you might help me with my son.”
“I’m ‘kind’ as you call it so I can get ahead in this racket. You either have to be a total jerk like Adams or you have to be a schmooze. I’m uncomfortable being a jerk – but I’m a really good schmoozer. I’m climbing my way up the ladder with kindness. It’s nothing spiritual. And, unfortunately, I’m not very good with kids. Why don’t you call Dr. Phil?” he teased.
Lupe laughed nervously and turned away.
As she walked past Thornton’s desk, he quietly said, “I’m a Christian. Can I help you with your son?”
Surprised and disbelieving, she shook her head and politely replied, “That’s okay. Thank you anyway.”
Thornton’s face flushed with humiliation. She did not see Christ in him.
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