What I learned working at one of America’s largest retailers

Last week was my last week of working a 6:00 PM-4:30 AM shift with one of America’s largest retailers.

As I reflect back on the last 8 months there are quite a few things I have learned. Here are just a few.

1. It is unbelievable, really unbelievable how much “stuff” there is to buy in this world. The next couple of observations are sort of further thought on this one.


H. L. Mencken

2. H. L. Mencken (American journalist and long time writer for The Baltimore Sun)was right when he wrote: “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public”. I believe that this quote can be updated because of my company’s presence around the world to be: “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the human race”. The British, the French, the Czechs all buy stuff that you would really not believe is being made.

3. As for things that you would not believe is being made, I could mention many (many that I will not because of the embarrassing nature of the product) but some of my favorites are: “Tammy and Tyrone” inflatable African-American dolls and their counterparts “Judy and John” inflatable “White-people” dolls. Not for what some of you may think, just inflatable dolls. My African-American co-workers agreed with me that this had to be the crazy idea of some white man because there are just not that many black women named Tammy.

Reg Mclelland

Reg McLelland

4. Years ago I became angry with my ethics professor, Dr. Reginald McLelland when he suggested that “We just have too much stuff being made. There should be a law limiting production to 5 different kinds of shampoo, 5 different kinds of deodorants, you know all that kind of stuff”. Well since seminary he is no longer Dr. McLelland to me but just plain Reg. He has become one of my closest friends and though I know it would be impossible to implement, after working at one of America’s largest retailers I tend to agree with his observation.

5. If everyone is calling you “sir” it means they think you are old.

6. If you carry around a clipboard to do your work: a) people will think you are smarter; 2) people will think you have a more important position with the company than you really do.

7. Blue collar workers, most with just a high school education, are the backbone of the American work force. Nothing would get done without this million + work force in America. I found myself making friends mostly with this group of people and enjoying their company. I did not use the “p word” around them (preacher) because I have found that if they find out you are one the no longer act like themselves around you (maybe because they have felt judged by pastors and religious folk in the past) but that when the find someone willing to listen to them they are more than happy to share their life struggles, disappointments and joys with you.

8. You do not get the same endorphin high working a 10 hour late-night shift with lots of heavy lifting as you get from a good 1 hour work out.

9. The South (at least Middle Tennessee) is still the Bible belt. One minute a co-worker would be cussing his boss or telling me of his latest romanic exploits and the next asking me when I thought “the rapture” would come.

10. I have not yet learned how long it takes to recover a regular sleep cycle. But I am working on it.

11. After working this schedule I have a greater appreciation for John Fogerty’s song: “Almost Saturday night”.

Ranked 72 greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone but what do they know

John Fogerty -Ranked 72 greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone but what do they know


A Post For Father’s Day

I woke up this Father’s Day missing my dad who died a little less than a year ago.My dad was always a man of few words and the last 5 years or so of his life he was so hard of hearingDad-head-shot

that even with a hearing aid he could not hear me on the phone, so the only time I could actually talk to him was when I was actually in Columbia at mom and dad’s house. So I remembered this story of my dad of a few word.

Many years ago, when I had been the PCA’s campus minister at the University of South Carolina for only a couple of years, a small country church in another denomination expressed an interest in having me be considered to be their pastor. If you are not familiar with how this works it usually involves sending them a resume, a recording of a sermon and a list of references they can contact. After all of that if they think you are a “candidate” they ask you to come and preach for them so they can evaluate you in person.

In this particular situation the preaching of the sermon  happened to be for an evening sermon. It was during a covered dish dinner or homecoming or something like that and for some reason I asked my dad to go with me. He and I met most of the church family, walked around the facilities, had the meal and then had the worship service. Following the service the elder in charge gave me a bundt cake and some sort of potted plant but no check or cash for preaching. Even in situations where you are “candidating” (as this process is usually called in the church) you are often paid to preach for the service and money to cover mileage and such. I collected my “gifts”, my dad and I said goodbye to our hosts and got back in my car for the trip back to Columbia. About 15 minutes into our trip my dad said: “I didn’t see that ‘fella’ give you an envelope or any money”. I said: “No they gave me this cake and potted plant”. He grunted of said “Humm” and we continued on our trip to Columbia for another 20 minutes or so with nothing being said (remember my dad was a man of few words). Then he said: “I don’t know much about this candidating business or much about how people call pastors but I don’t think you need to talk to this church anymore”. And that was it, he didn’t say much more on the trip home unless he made some comments about whatever sport Clemson was playing that time of year.

I took my dad’s advise. When a man of few words offers advise, it is usually good to at least listen and consider if not take the advise immediately and act on it.

The road to hell …

the_road_to_hell_is_paved_with_good_intentionsAs I look back on my blogs it seems to be that I last said that I was going to be blogging more than I had been. Well, as you can see that is not true. I have not really had anything up since late last year. I can honestly say that my intentions were good but I was just not up to the task. Since October of 2012 I have just been plain tired. I have been working at a job that ran from 6:00 PM-4:30 AM sometimes Wed-Sat and lately Tues-Fri and during my company’s peak Tues-Sat. I have also been the administrator of my parents’ estates. My mom and dad both died in July of 2012 within three weeks of each other and I had the responsibility and joy of being the administrator of their estates.

Well, hopefully, as of this week I have finished with my parents’ estates. This is a joint effort between myself and my sister and brother (I am thankful for a family that does not fight over wills, estates, and property) and the probate court of the wonderful state of South Carolina who has made this job much easier than many people I know facing the same situation in other states.

Secondly, I have given my two-weeks notice at the place of my employment. I have not done this with another job in the pipeline. It has just gotten to the point that after 37 wonderful years of marriage, Debbie and I could no longer stand the hours  apart from each other.Need a job

So what does this mean for this blog? Well after updating my blog and moving it to another server (whatever that means, still trying to figure it out myself) with the help of my friend and former piano player for my stand-up act (Titus Bartos) I am hoping to be more faithful in “blogging”. I want to add places to review books, films and music (you will have to look to the next few weeks for all of that). But as an example tonight Debbie and I watched the Cliff Robertson classic (and somewhat 60s dated Charlie, I am currently reading the biography of Amy Winehouse (written by her father), and as I write this I am listening to the very first Chicago album – when they were still known as Chicago Transit Authority. So I find myself between several worlds but trying to figure it all out (interpret?) from a biblical perspective.

I am also considering posting my sermons from the past 8 years and the ones I am currently preaching on this page as well but would like to hear from you if you would be interested in hearing/downloading my sermons.

Well that is where I am right not. Let me know what you think of these ideas and possibilities. As I am just hearing from Chicago these are  Question s 67 and 68.