Lesson in Humility – “Who taught you how to mop a floor?”

Posted: August 16, 2012 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

God has chosen some interesting ways to teach me humility. I was a prideful kid because I was bright. And because I was bright I was entitled to success. Here’s a list of things that made me feel pretty good about myself when I was 17.

  1. Wrote my first basic computer game by the 7th grade
  2. Won my 7th and 8th grade Science Fairs with the above program
  3. Wrote a computer animation application in 9th grade
  4. Went to a state wide science fair with above program
  5. Had all honors courses in High School
  6. Graduated from High School at 16.

I was bright, conceited and lazy as all get out. I procrastinated until the last minute on everything I did. If I would have put the proper time and effort into any of the above activities I would have achieved much greater things even at 16. My teachers labeled me “Mr. Potential.” Because of my laziness, I didn’t even register to take my ACT. No ACT meant no university for me after high school. This is one of my major let downs in life. As I look back on things I should have done, one is to put the stamp on the envelope and take my ACT. Since, I didn’t have any University options at 16 I registered for the local junior college.

I was not feeling the whole junior college thing to me it was just more high school and “beneath” me. So, I stopped going and decided to find work. After months of searching I was able to find a job through my cousin working at the Wendy’s in Burbank. Now, if you know Chicago at all Englewood to Burbank takes almost an 1 ½ on the bus. And if I missed the last bus I had to walk the three miles to get to work through Bridgeview. Bridgeview in the 90’s was not a friendly place for blacks.

During the many days and nights I made that 3 mile walk or that 1 ½ bus ride for my $5.50 an hour I had plenty of time to think. The questions I had were, “Where did I go wrong and what was God trying to teach me.” The low point of my experience was when I was mopping the floor and my manager whose name was “Tom” and was dressed in a Wendy’s short sleeve shirt and a tie, walked up to me and asked me in a snarky voice, “Who taught you how to mop a floor. Let me teach you how to mop a floor.” After this event I had a conversation with him and he said he wasn’t even going to hire me for the job because he thought I was too mentally slow to do the work!

I literally remember looking up to the ceiling and remembering my “storied” lists of accomplishments up to this point. I said, “God how in the world did I fall this low? I get it, I get it!”

But, I didn’t get it and God wasn’t finished teaching me more about humility. I ended up staying at Wendy’s for a 1 ½ before I got fired. A few months later I took a job working at the Palmer House making beds and cleaning toilets as the only male housekeeper among 150 housekeepers. I didn’t get a job where I got in front of a PC until I was about 22 or 23. Those are the school of hard knocks.

Lesson learned…. That’s why I go hard today.

  1. […] my last post, I talked about how I was transitioning from high school to life.  This was a very difficult time […]

  2. […] tell this story because this is the reason I ended being shown how to mop a floor.  When you live off just your ability and not the desire to strive for something great the […]

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