A couple days ago, I ran into a couple at the gym who I married
at the gym. Though normally my role in a wedding is reserved to the disc jockey, I am also an ordained minister (as odd as that may seem for a non-believer) and am therefore legally capable of marrying couples in thirty-six states, including my own. I’ve married about half a dozen couples in my lifetime and feel honored to have done so.
In terms of this couple’s ceremony, I did a fine job. At their rehearsal the previous day, I managed to quell many fears, solve a whole bunch of problems, and head-off any potential trouble spots for the following day. For example, I was told that two of the guests would be in wheelchairs, and no one was really sure where to seat them during the ceremony. I pointed out the location that would be best (one that provided a good view, an easy exit, and plenty of shade), met with the groomsmen who would be seating the guests and explained what they should say and do when these wheelchair-bound guests arrived (knowing that if unprepared, there would most certainly be a few awkward moments of indecision when these two people rolled in), instructed the reception facility to be sure that there were no chairs positioned at the these guests’ assigned seats (aware of the etiquette of the situation and knowing that this would demonstrate to these guests that attention to detail had been paid in their regard) and generally put the bride and groom at ease about handing these disabled relatives. It wasn’t much, to be honest. Most of what I said came from experience and common sense, but I know that when the biggest day of your life is less than twenty-four hours away, common sense can be a difficult state to achieve.
There were lots of examples of little things like this that I did to make the ceremony and reception go well, and at the end of the day, I felt good, knowing that I had guided these two people through an important day in their lives and ensured that they were relaxed and having fun.
Next year may be my last as a minister and DJ, and I may only work at a few weddings. If my books continue to sell well and a movie or television deal happens, I may hang up the tuxedo for good, using my time spent as a DJ to focus more upon my writing and my family. And while the prospect of my summertime weekends being free once again, I can’t help but feel regret and loss over the prospect of quitting something at which I am so good.
After graduating college, I landed a teaching position and quit my job as the manager of the McDonald’s restaurant near my college. I had worked there for almost seven years as I put myself through college, earning an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree, and a teaching certificate while flipping burgers, repairing equipment and managing a crew of sixty mostly non-English speaking employees. Including the time that I managed McDonald’s restaurants when I was younger, I had put more than ten years into the company, and I was damn good at what I did. My talent was in developing the people around me, turning fry cooks, non-English speaking illegal immigrants and irresponsible teenagers into managers. I was the delegator of all delegators. There is a woman named Mary still working at the McDonald’s near my college, and when I began working with her, she cooked eggs every morning and never spoke a word to anyone. She was a Chinese immigrant with little command of the English language, but if you stop by that restaurant today, she practically runs the place. She works as the morning manager and is still the most competent and efficient boss in that restaurant, but I can still remember the days when I had to coax her from behind the fryer to speak to a customer, handle money, operate the computer, and manage her fellow employees.
Leaving Mary and so many others behind was not easy. Leaving a job that I knew I did so well was difficult.
If my career as a writer continues to be successful, there may be a day when I leave the elementary classroom, devoting all my time to writing and perhaps teaching on the college level, and while this may appeal to me on some level, the prospect of no longer teaching children seems impossible to imagine. I’m good at this job. I’ve been recognized for my skill on a district and state-wide level. To quit this career would seem like a great loss and the betrayal of a skill and a talent that I am fortunate enough to possess.
This is the crux of my problem. As a DJ, a minister, and a teacher, I am very good at what I do. I enjoy the work, find it oddly simple and challenging at the same time, and derive great satisfaction from what I do. But in terms of working as a DJ and minister, my thirteen year business may be coming to an end soon, and though I yearn for a time when weddings and clients and playlists will no longer loom over me, the part that recognizes how good I am at this job shames me for even thinking about quitting.
It’s hard to quit something that you are so good at, even if you’re ready to move on and want to move on. The discarding of skills and abilities that have served me so well seems wasteful, thankless and wrong.
At least it does to me.
Am I alone in this feeling, or is this more common than I suspect?