When Life Hands You Shit, Start Shoveling

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)When Life Hands You Shit, Start Shoveling

Since 2003 I have worked for a global coffee company. The benefits (like reasonably priced health insurance) are good and I get all the free coffee I want. Mostly I brew coffee and take orders and make lattes. I don’t work full-time, it’s not a hard job and it suits me.

But lately I’ve been re-evaluating my life choices. This started when a customer told us we had an issue in our restroom that needed to be dealt with. I had been in the restroom earlier and noticed a rather unpleasant odor, but that is not unusual. I often wonder what goes on in there.

But this particular afternoon, there was a bit of a lull and since no one else volunteered, I decided to see what was going on in the restroom, a decision I will regret for the rest of my life. Because what had happened in the restroom was that someone had shit on the floor. On purpose. Behind the trash can. Then the trash can had been moved which smeared the poop across the floor and onto the bottom of the trash can.

IMG_1964Gross and disgusting does not begin to cover it. And guess who got to clean it up? I don’t suppose I had to, but my philosophy is, once your child has thrown up in your hand, not much grosses you out. But this came pretty damn close.

So I’ve got a mop bucket and restroom cleaner and gloves and the whole time I’m literally cleaning up someone else’s shit I’m wondering where I went so horribly wrong on my life’s path that this is what I’m doing now. I’m also thanking God that our delightful guest didn’t decide to smear the gift across the walls.

Seriously, who does this? What is wrong with people? For future reference, if you’re unhappy with your drink, we’ll remake it at no charge. We do it all the time. We get enough figurative shit from the general public on a regular basis. There’s no need to leave the real thing on the bathroom floor.

So the shit gets cleaned and eventually we all have a good laugh about it and I get a pat-on-the-back award from the shift supervisor with a note that says, “Thanks for cleaning up the shit around here.”  Har har.

Then the next day I find out my publisher is going out of business.

There aren’t quite words to express how that felt. Disappointment. Sadness. Frustration. I just can’t seem to catch a break. And I seriously have to wonder how I ended up where I am. At the proverbial fork in the road, did I choose the wrong path? Because these days that’s how it feels.

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Should I just stop writing? My books don’t sell in big numbers. It’s been an uphill battle ever since I sat down to write a novel oh so many years ago. Maybe I wasn’t meant to do what I’m doing at all.

Except when I mention this to two friends, both of whom formerly worked with me slinging lattes and one of whom is now my marketing guide, I was reminded of a blog I just wrote about how hiding your talent under a basket is dishonoring God and the gift He gave you. I swear as I was sitting there talking about that blog it was like God saying of course you can’t stop writing. No matter how much shit gets thrown at you. (I’m paraphrasing, of course.) And then He said, “I’ll help you shovel.”

#writing #shit #life #choices


  1. Dear Barbara, I am profoundly–I’m searching for a word, but there isn’t one word, there’s a bunch of them: moved and humbled by your honesty and insight, encouraged in my own life, and horrified that you might quit writing. I’m honest–haven’t read your books, but I have read your blog and messages. You’re an immensely talented writer and a store of wisdom the world needs to hear. Publish your own work, darling girl. Don’t you dare quit this blog! You are showing me how to be honest. You are helping me come out of my introverted shadow.

    • Aww, thanks Curtiss Ann. What was that Winston Churchill famously said? “Never never never quit” I think it was. I so want to believe that persistence will eventually pay off, but nobody ever told me how exhausting persistence could be! Thanks for commenting. Knowing someone reads my blog and thinks it’s worth their time to comment means a lot. 🙂

  2. Peggy Necel

    Barb, I enjoy your blog. I can hear you saying those words. I see you saying those words. They were very helpful to me when I needed them most. I have watched you blossom — albeit afar; I have read some of your earliest works. You are too talented to quit. I like to use the quote, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”

    • Thanks, Peggy. I remember you always saying that. I truly appreciate the support and I appreciate you.

  3. Andrea

    Don’t give up Barbara! I always loved working with you, morning shifts were always the best bc sweet barb was there to save me from the panic of the morning rush ❤️. Your shift manager better give you a tip for all the crap you deal with 😉.

  4. Oh. My. I feel like If I found the bathroom issue there would have been even more bodily functions to clean up as I would have vomited all over the floor! I don’t understand people.

    Don’t you love and hate it when God uses your words (that He gave you) “against” you. 🙂

    • Steph, you are just like Dani. She said she didn’t think she could’ve done it, she’d have thrown up. And yes, God can be sneaky when He wants His way. 🙂

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