The Highest Paying Job

December 21, 2009
“No, I have never had a paying job.” I shamefully responded to my college interviewer as he shook his head disapprovingly and wrote a note on his professional clipboard.

Hours spent in the hot sun painting a house, fixing a roof, and repairing a ceiling; that's what I spent my summer doing. I volunteered at Camp Hope with 60 other youth to repair homes. That's the reason why I can't truthfully tell the interviewer I have had a paying job.

In a poor town on the border of West Virginia, I dedicated myself to repairing a 92-year old grandmother's home. Each day I woke up at seven, ate some food, and headed to my work site. Facing my fears, I climbed up a ladder with my paint pail and goggles. The hot sun bore into the back of my legs as I awkwardly leaned backward with my paintbrush over my head. “Katie!” The boys on the roof exclaimed, causing me to lose my balance and hit my head on the gutter, leaving remnants of the wet, white paint on my forehead. After stumbling down the ladder, I passed a saw and hammer up to the roof at their request so they could continue laying hot asphalt to the bare roof. Wiping sweat and paint off my head, I climbed back up my ladder and got back to work. What seemed like hours later, my work team leader announced that it was lunchtime. Spreading peanut butter and jelly onto some bread, I joined my work mates on the curb of the road to enjoy the delicious lunch. After lunch, I forced myself to continue working in the scorching hot sun.

Ten hours after the long day began, my work team began to clean up and pack up the white cans for the forty-five minute drive back to our dorms. Day after day I repeated this routine until the end of the mission trip.

On the last day of work, I will never forget the appreciative 92-year old homeowner wiping thankful tears away from her eyes and handing a handwritten note to each team member. My heart swelled. I looked around the room; my work team had become my family; the leaders had become parent-like, and, most of all, the homeowner would have a safe home to finish her life in.

In the end, the job I completed was more worthwhile than any paying job I could ever have. As I looked at my college interviewer I smiled and realized; life is so much more than money.

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