I was returning from the airport not too long ago. I drove a friend of mine there and after dropping him off, on the way back home I stopped off at Subway and got me a turkey sandwich. There was a young woman working behind the counter and as I watched her work and deal with those customers who were ahead of me, I was taken with her skill in how well she did her job. She was centered, good humored and very quick in making up the orders; one after another. I have always been taken with people who do any kind of job well, no matter what it is. So when it was my turn, I placed my order and enjoyed the dexterity, intelligence and skill in how she carried out my order. So as I was checking out I told her that her rhythm in how she does her job could easily be put to music. She was taken back a bit and asked me what I meant. Since there was no one in line behind me, I told her how much I enjoy watching people who take pride in their work and in doing so it becomes a type of art. She liked that idea. Before I left I asked if they takes tips. In some Subways they have signs forbidding that, but I could not see one there. She said yes tips were allowed, so I gave her a one and told her to keep up her pride in how she does things.

Years ago I did a weekly shopping trip for the community and every week I had to take in a bank deposit. At one bank, there was one teller that I would always go to, even if the line was longer than in other places, just to watch her do her job. Quick, cannot describe how she did her work. Again she seemed to take delight in what she was doing and did it well. So one day she asked me why I always came to her window and I told her more or less what I told the lady in Subway. After that, she seemed pleased to see me every week or so for the next few years.

When I was in the Navy, I had a lay over in Miami, a long one, about six hours. I was traveling with another Navy man, so we decided to go into Miami for a couple of hours. While there, we stopped off at a street café. It had 12 seats, two empty, so we sat down and ordered our meal. It was a busy place, people coming and going at a good clip. There was a young man there doing the cooking, taking orders and making change for the customers. So as I sat, I watched him work and was really amazed at how well he was doing so many things at once. All the while talking and joking with those waiting for their meal. I left him with a bigger tip than I would normally do because I got such pleasure seeing how he preformed his duties.

Work as art. I believe that it is so, because something is being created and if done well is a dance of sorts. Perhaps it becomes art, when pride is taken in the job and it is done well, with focus and yes enjoyment. Even if the enjoyment is not present, still a good performance is still a thing of beauty for me.

Rhythm is the trick, the easy flow of energy that can be almost unconscious, or perhaps intuitive is a better word. It is like those good at sports or dancing. It is done without self consciousness, but pleasure is derived from it because it is allowed to express itself without too much self evaluation, it is just done.

Perhaps it is just watching human intelligence at work, I don’t know, but no matter where I go, I always notice if someone has that ability to do their job well; making it seem effortless as they do it. Perhaps to take pride in ones work is the key, something which probably takes a certain kind of discipline, something that is easily overlooked. Just because something is common (for there are many who truly take pride in what they do), does not mean that each instance of this kind of true living art should not be noticed and truly appreciated. It also adds a dimension of beauty in life on a regular basis that is all too easy to over look.

Dancing

Short order cooks tap dance as they work, or juggle perhaps as the orders fly, I can feel their energy soaring their quick movements a pleasure to watch.

A good waitress waltzes as she glides, perhaps unaware of her beautiful performance for those who watch, appreciating her skill.

I once knew a lady bartender who worked in a busy place, chaos abounded orders yelled out, yet she polkaed her way through, never missing a beat.

Carpenters precise in their planning, their two stepping slow and deliberate, each movement to the point; creating something beautiful that will last.

Emergency room doctors and nurses, centered in times of stress and pain, moving with grace from bed to bed allowing anxieties release from those who feel its sting.

People in movement are beautiful, though often over looked, yet there for those who learn to see; the light of intelligence acted out in often humble ways, yet none the less important and a delight to watch.

Perhaps it is about dancing after all.

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Mark Dohle

Mark Dohle

I am 62 years old and have lived in the Atlanta area since 1971.  I am Catholic and my faith is important to me, yet as I age the mystery continues to deepen, so I read broadly and try to keep things somewhat open ended. I work with the aged and the dying. I was in the Navy for four years and I guess I am life of center when it comes to politics, but not too far left. Actually, I am kind of a political moron.

I am the third of  11 children; ten still alive, one died in in 1958, three days after birth.