A friend once gave me a little book entitled “Attic People.” The book’s premise was that there are two kinds of people – attic people, who pull you up, and basement people, who pull you down. My friend saw me as an attic person.
It’s pretty easy to be an attic person around our friends. The question is, how do we treat people who aren’t our friends? The people who live in another neighborhood, or go to another church? What about the people at the workplace? Are we concerned about the man whose job is disappearing because his company is moving overseas? What if we’re the one who has to let someone go? How do we tell them? Do we offer a severance package to help them pay their bills until they find work? Do we offer job counseling and/or space where they can conduct a job search? Do we pull them up? Or down?
Pat was hired by a large manufacturing facility specifically to prepare employees for the time when the plant would be closing a year or two in advance of it actually doing so. Her job included planning seminars and workshops on everything from learning new job skills to developing self-esteem to preparing a resume. For employees who were not fluent in English she engaged the services of a language tutor. She even planned an ice cream social and a couple of pizza parties in order to reassure the employees that they were not alone and that the company really cared about what happened to them.
This company really did care – enough to hire Pat to be a light (Eph 5:8-14) for its employees in the darkness of their fear and confusion over an uncertain future. This company hired Pat because she sees and values the dignity of every person. She does not judge by appearances. She is not impressed by lofty stature. The 200-plus people who have successfully moved into other jobs because of her would describe Pat as an attic person. How would the people at work describe you?
Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.