Week 13: Corporate Numbers, An Apology, and An Update.
Weekly Digital Detox Reflections
Hello there and welcome to The Endeavor. We are now 13 weeks into these digital detox reflections and I must say, I’m loving this! I’m loving the routine I've developed which is helping me every day to become less attached to my phone and all things digital. I’m also loving the writing process this routine has spurred. My brother,, can attest to the fact that before these weekly reflections, I struggled with the confidence and practices that are necessary to write consistently. I was in a perpetual cycle of wanting to write, finding some motivation, starting a draft, telling myself it was garbage and no one gives a damn what I have to say, trashing it, and giving up until the want or need to write showed up again. This cycle has been broken.
In some ways, that cycle, or perhaps the process of breaking it is what The Endeavor is all about. The world wants us in a cycle of sin, guilt, condemnation, relief, numbness, then sin again. The Kingdom of God calls us to break this cycle and seek the straight and narrow path that leads us to Jesus. Breaking the cycle and finding The Path is the adventure of life itself. That is the endeavor. What I aim to do with this newsletter and these reflections is think through the struggles along the way and share them in hopes they will help us endure this journey together.
I will admit, I regressed a bit this week. My phone went in its place every evening when I got home but became a distraction when kids went to bed. I found myself getting the phone and getting on Substack Notes and interacting when I should have been reading or going to bed. On the bright side, this only happened a few times before I was able to be honest with myself about it. As soon as I admitted it to myself, the phone went away. I do think this digital detox routine has helped me to be honest about my bad habits more quickly. Eventually, I hope to no longer have the bad habits at all.
Where My Thoughts Have Been
Last week, someone asked me how long I had been at my current job. 4 years is the answer. This made me think of other jobs I’ve had and realize how different some of them were from others. For instance, my job as a staff member/campus missionary for Chi Alpha Campus Ministries was the lowest paying job I had (which was my fault) but as I have said before, it was the best job I’ve had up to this point. Why? Because I was free to just do ministry. Free to meet with people individually and walk through scripture and life together. I was in a place where I could love people, and have them know they were loved while we worked and lived together in a way that would make us more like Jesus. It’s safe to say my experience in working for corporations has been vastly different.
In 2016, I got a job as an unloader for Walmart at one of their distribution centers. It only took me a couple of hours to realize what mattered there was not people or their well-being. What mattered were the numbers. For me specifically, these numbers were summed up in one word, “production”. Every day, you had to do your best to “meet production” so that your production numbers for the week were up to snuff. I wish I could remember all the details, but if I recall correctly, you had to be unloading 395 “units” or boxes of stuff per hour to meet production. That boils down to, moving your rear-end as quickly as possible, building pallets well, and reminding yourself a break is coming eventually. The problem with the number 395 is that it’s so high that it’s actually impossible depending on the freight you were unloading. If you were fortunate enough to get a truck full of light toys or tiny boxes of something, you could easily beat production. In a perfect world, this would happen on Monday so that you could go a little easier the rest of the week. But if you got a truck full of steering wheel covers, heavy furniture, or freight so light it all fell over and mixed itself up, you were simply never going to meet production. Go without meeting production long enough, you’d find yourself looking for work somewhere else. Similar things could be said about my current job with Cintas.
Before I get going and sound super cynical, I do have positive things to say. For all the corporate nonsense and fixation on numbers, being an SSR with Cintas is still a good job, as far as corporate jobs go. For SSRs (Sales and Service Representatives) they have found a decent work/life balance in my estimation. When you get your own route, you work 4 days a week and this does not necessarily mean 4 ten-hour days. We are paid on commission, which means you can clock out and go home even if you have only worked 5 hours that day. If you try to do a good job and handle your business, you do not get micromanaged. We also have every weekend and every major holiday off. I say all of this to say that while this job is not perfect, it could be a heck of a lot worse. Now, onto the more cynical side.
Every single week, and once a month at a group meeting I have to sit down and listen to middle managers and general managers go on and on about numbers. They do a good job of giving praise, but without fail, there are numbers in one category or another that are not good enough. If you have done well in certain areas, you are guaranteed to be told how you have utterly failed in others. And you better have a good explanation as to why. What about the rare cases where all of your numbers are good? Well, you may get a pat on the back, a handshake from the boss, or even a fancy pen. But before they let you go, they’ll tell you to now go out and double those numbers. There is no such thing as contentment. In fact, where I work, we’re actually instructed to have what they call “positive discontent”. By this they mean never be satisfied. Never settle. There is no such thing as enough. You must go out and grow grow grow!
My biggest gripe about Cintas is not exclusive to them. It’s my biggest issue with the way our economy and society function as a whole. Everything seems to be based on endless growth. This has now been going on for generations and has so embedded itself into our culture that it has affected the way we do everything. Work endlessly, spend endlessly, and consume endlessly. Even if you find the time to work at something you love, do not be satisfied with “low numbers”. Get your act together and make it grow! This is where my apology comes in….
Dear readers, this is an apology you may feel is unnecessary, but one I feel obligated to give. Last Thursday evening, I posted a Note where if I’m honest, I basically complained about my number of views going down. Corporate numbers thinking got to me., and were all very helpful, reassuring, and even helped me come up with ideas for how to improve my newsletter. While in the Note, I said I was not really complaining, it is kind of hard to see it any other way. For that, I owe each and every one of your readers and subscribers an apology. The fact that any one of you takes any time to read, share, restack, or comment on any post is truly humbling and I apologize that my complaint about views makes it sound as if I do not appreciate or value each and every reader. I truly do. I love writing, and I love sharing these reflections. I love talking about things that I find interesting with you all and above all, I love the opportunity this platform provides for me to freely and openly talk about our Lord Jesus. I do not take any of this for granted. Moving forward, I will continue to work on my skills as a writer, improve upon the formatting and style of my newsletter to be as reader-friendly as possible, and most importantly, I will no longer be looking at my stats per post and only plan to look at my subscriber numbers when I see them on my writer dashboard. This newsletter was started out of a love for thinking and writing and that’s what it will continue to be about. Again, I apologize for complaining. It will not happen again, no matter how much this newsletter does or does not grow. Which brings me to the update!
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Some of you may have noticed in my last post, but I have not officially announced anything yet. The Endeavor is now offering paid subscriber plans! With that said, I feel you need to know what my goals are. The main goal is to continue to write, no matter how many paid or free subscribers I have. One goal that might eventually be achievable would be to generate enough of an income from The Endeavor to help pay for student loans. That would be amazing! A pipe dream that I honestly do not expect to become a reality would be to be generating enough that my wife could quit her job which she would love to do, but we simply could not afford that right now. Again, that's more of a pipe dream, but something worth trying for.
As someone who is still in the very early stage of my Substack journey, and as someone who wants people to feel like this is worth paying for or that they get their money’s worth, should they decide to pay, I want to hear from anyone willing to comment; What makes a newsletter worth paying for? What special offers have you seen other newsletters give to paid subscribers that you think make them worth the money? If you have a subscription plan, what do you offer paid subscribers? I want as much feedback on this as possible. As of right now, I have no special offers or distinctions for paid subscribers, but I long to offer something of value. So please, give me your feedback here, and share this so that I may get feedback from as many people as possible. Above all, I want to offer all of you paid or free, a newsletter you love to read. That will never change. I also want those who choose to pay to know how valued and appreciated they are.
This was not my typical sermon-style reflection, but I will close with the benediction nonetheless.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt,
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon us, we sinners.
Thank you for reading! Do your best to disconnect from the artificial, and connect with others.
And as always,
Keep thy head cool and thine eyes true.
Howard Pyle, Man of Iron
Scripture of the Week
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Matthew 6:33-34 KJV
Word of the Week
(adjective) Prodigious- remarkably or impressively great in extent, size, or degree.