Tuesday, September 13, 2011


After graduate school, I worked at a Unitarian Universalist church for three years.  I was their all-around office person.  I did the financial stuff and the publishing stuff and the explaining-UU-to-curious-people-even-though-it-wasn't-my-tradition stuff and the whatever-else-needs-to-be-done stuff.  I came back to the synagogue at which I had worked part-time throughout graduate school when they had a full-time position, and that was that.

I am so grateful for the time at the church.  The Minister and Director of Religious Education didn't have regular office hours, so often it was just me and the maintenance person who lived in an apartment in the building.  Going from an office with a strong core of people to an office with just me meant lots of things, the most important being:

  • Nobody's going to bring in muffins.  You'd better do that sort of thing yourself.
  • Nobody's available to unjam the copier.

I've been away from the church for five years,* and I remain grateful for what I learned during that time.  With no one there, there wasn't anyone else to fix whatever went wrong. I learned to figure things out, to research solutions, and to improvise.  I can't overemphasize how helpful that's been to me.

Last week, someone came to me and asked how to change the toner in the duplicator.  Do I know?  No.  Can I figure it out?  Of course.  She later came to me with questions about a program that was new to everyone.  It took two minutes to figure out how to solve her problem because the answer was right on the screen.  I certainly can't fix everything--I'm convinced wireless access is powered by fairy dust--but I'm willing to give things a try.

I sound like a self-righteous jerk, and I don't mean to.  What I'm trying to articulate is that I am grateful I learned to depend on myself and not on someone else.  Even as introverted as I am, I didn't like working in near complete isolation, and I'm happy to be back at the synagogue with my lovely, dysfunctional colleagues.  But I wouldn't give up that experience for anything.

I bow to the ground to that congregation.  And yesterday I brought muffins into work.

*Huh.  How did that happen?


  1. Not a self-righteous jerk. A strong woman who understands and appreciates what is good about her. Huge difference, that.

    What kind of muffins?


  2. "I'm convinced wireless access is powered by fairy dust"

    Thank you for my new phrase of the month!