Night Shift

Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.

(Habakkuk 2:2) NKJV

In the spring of 2003 we were making a mess of things as usual because we thought that living by faith was abandoning all of life’s normal responsibilities so that we could write the definitive work reconciling science with the Bible.*

It’s a theme which repeats itself in our life. Any way the leadership of the church where we attended, Calvary Baptist Church in Carrboro, North Carolina, was getting skittish and as a gesture to them we decided to make a serious effort to gain full-time employment.

Something that we were mindful of is that, in our opinion, the absolute worst possible job in the world would be working night shift as a housekeeper with a bunch of poor minority people. That will sound bad, no doubt, given that the present context of 2020 brings into sharp focus the fact that poor minorities working awful jobs on night shift was due to the systemic racism on which the USA has been built. Having said that, in order to prove to the church leadership that we were a team player we were willing to put all of our prejudices aside and do it.

There were a few parameters which constrained the search:

  1. It couldn’t be anything in Biological sciences,
  2. it had to have a schedule which would allow us to pick up our two small children from elementary/middle school in the early afternoon,
  3. the job search had to be easy and require almost no effort.

We called up the University of North Carolina’s Temp agency, Tarheel Temps, on a Friday and spoke with one of the most helpful people in the history of humanity, Angela Ball. Here’s how the conversation went:

  • Matty: What do you have on 3rd shift?
  • Tarheel Temps: Housekeeping.
  • Matty: I’ll take it.
  • Tarheel Temps: Do you have any housekeeping experience?
  • Matty: Yes.
  • Tarheel Temps: It’s a 40 hour per week full-time position.
  • Matty: Yep, that’s what I’m looking for.
  • Tarheel Temps: Orientation is Monday, see you then.

We must have headed over to the temp agency that Friday to fill out paperwork with our work experience, in which we prominently featured our time as a Custodian at University Presbyterian Church and Facilities Manager at The Chapel of the Cross. The following Monday, waiting for orientation to begin at the Giles Horney Building, the Director of Housekeeping, Bill Burston, excited came over to introduce himself.

  • Bill: Do you have management experience?
  • Matty: Yes, that was my last job.
  • Bill: Do you want to be a Zone Manager?
  • Matty: I don’t know, do you want me to be a Zone Manager?

After the orientation was over we were assigned to clean the 4th and 5th floors of the Tate-Turner-Kuralt building on the UNC campus. We were under the supervision of Mr. Joseph Ellison, one of the finest members of humanity who we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. On the first night we found that the locks had all been changed and we didn’t have keys to any of the offices but we convinced Joseph to let me deep clean all of the restrooms on our floors. We worked all night with no breaks until Mr. Ellison had to come and pull us off the job to go home. He had some paperwork which had our name on it. He asked us about our middle-name, “What’s the S for? Superman?”

*this is where we find ourselves once again, devoting ourselves full-time to writing the definitive work reconciling science and the Bible, except that the really nice thing about COVID-19 is that our 4th grader’s school is shut and we’re home doing distance learning because his other parent is a non-native English speaker with little education. Yes, COVID-19 is the perfect excuse to abandon all normal responsibilities and do what we have always known needed to be done, but no one else saw the vision so we never had any support. We still don’t have any support which is why COVID-19 is a gift from God.

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