We live in a Midwestern suburban area surrounded by pockets of farmland. When my son was in kindergarten, I chaperoned a field trip to The Critter Barn, an educational working farm with livestock.
I grew up in a farming community. My family didn’t farm, but many of my friends did, so I’ve seen the inside of a few livestock barns. When I dressed for the field trip, I chose a practical ensemble: durable jeans and hiking boots. Not all of the chaperones had the benefit of my experience. Picture this: most of the women on the trip were smartly dressed in casual capris or shorts—in lightly colored hues. Some even wore flip-flops. It was quite a sight to see them gingerly picking their way through the straw-and-animal-pellet-covered barn floors!
I confess to feeling just a bit . . .smug.
When it came time to feed the baby goats, guess who got elected? That would be me, Jennifer-The-Well-Prepared.
Suddenly, my “wise” choice of clothing didn’t seem so smart. My smugness evaporated as Mary, the proprietor of The Critter Barn hollered, “OK, now, I need you volunteers to go on over to the pen, pick up a kid and bring him back over here for the feeding demonstration.” Sadly, by “kid” she was talking about the four-footed kind, not one of the kindergartners.
Oh man, I did NOT sign on for hauling livestock was my first reaction. With all of the other chaperones looking at me expectantly, it was either back out or woman up. So, I took a deep breath, and walked over to the pen. I hoisted up the baby goat and gently carried the furry, squirming load to the circle of on-looking kindergartners and parents.
It was over in a few minutes. And you know what? It wasn’t so bad. That little guy was actually kind of cute.
That “I did NOT sign up for this!” feeling can strike at work too. Probably not because you’ve been asked to haul a baby goat, but still, the realization that you’re in for some uncomfortable work still stinks.
In our work lives it would be great if all tasks were interesting and all project work was easy. But even in the best of jobs unforeseen situations arise.
It’s in these moments of “what have I gotten myself into?!” that glimpses of our character shine through. Will we beg off, pleading that the goat is smelly? Will we whine and say that we didn’t plan to haul livestock today?
Or will we suck it up and carry the goat?
Update: a few days after I published this post, The Critter Barn announced the birth of quadruplets– that’s a lot of kids!