Catholics earning their living at Queenstown’s Pick ‘n Pay

In chapter 3 of Luke’s Gospel, we see how people, feeling quite uneasy after one of his fire and brimstone sermons, approached John the Baptist with a worried heart asking him: “And we, what must we do?”

John’s answer is surprisingly mild. He just advised everybody to do what they have to do and that with a lot of common sense, responsibility and simplicity of heart. Even soldiers and hated tax collectors found his advice fantastic.

Since some months, we have in our Diocese a “Pastoral Plan” which speaks to everybody and calculates everybody in, our parishioners working for Pick ‘n Pay included.

So, dear Bishop, they say, we saw your “pastoral plan” clearly printed against the wall of our church and we feel a little bit uneasy with its serious and academic language. Do we really fit in it? We are only simple people, working long hours at Pick ‘n Pay, but trying to make something out of our life.

Well, dear Theresa, Danilla, Désirée, Rochenda, Rozanne,  Lee-Ashton and Leandra, listen what the Bishop has to tell you!

He says: “So, you work at Queenstown’s Pick ‘n Pay? That’s great! And yes, don’t worry, you fit wonderfully well in the program of the Pastoral Plan! First of all, thank God daily that you are lucky to have a job and that in a time where we have a lot of people who desperately are searching for that which is part of your daily life. Secondly, appreciate your work giver and pay him back with sound and honest work and thirdly, be sunshine for every customer you have to serve. By doing this you can make the difference which counts in the Pastoral Plan!”

As their Pastor, I meet them regularly in Pick ‘n Pay. We exchange some friendly words and then life goes on: I have to do my shopping and they have to look after the customers.

But there are also moments where we have a little bit more time, and today I have some words for them. Look people, as your priest I have to tell you that I am happy and even a little bit proud with you! As Catholics, you are at your working place in the minority, but never ever you were ashamed about your being catholic and that I appreciate very much! The fact that you are working already quite some time in the same business means that your bosses are happy with you, which is also for me a good reason to be glad. You proved to be good stuff and not crap.

I don’t hesitate to tell here to everybody on the Internet and in the Diocesan Newsletter that you belong to my flock and I present you with pleasure.

So, dear readers, when you enter the Mall in Queenstown, you will see a clothing shop and that is the domain of Theresa and Danilla. The shop sells relatively cheap clothing and is orientated on goods for ladies and children which attract a good number of customers and that means that and Theresa and Danilla have daily enough to do, and they do it: always very friendly, efficiently and smiling!

The neighboring shop is not a shop, but a “boutique” and there Désirée fits in well: her gracious and distinguished but also friendly and smiling appearance is exactly that which is required from her in that environment.

Rozanne is the “Queen of the bakery”. She knows exactly when the bread and the rolls leave the oven and nobody has to tell her something about cakes, because in that domain, she is really the specialist. Black Forest cakes are her pride and I can recommend that speciality to everybody!

Rochenda is mostly busy as a packer. Her caring hands handle gently what the customers just paid for. Every item is put with respect into the carriers and every customer is greeted with a warm “Thank you!”

Lee-Ashton is the man between the store room and the shelves. Always in a good mood we see him carting goods and filling up the shelves. He knows where the freshest bread is and gives his advice with pleasure. Lee-Ashton’s presence makes quite often my day.

And last but not least there is Leandra. Leandra stands in the liquor store and I call her slightly teasing “Our Shebeen Mother”. Her job is not that easy because she has a rich variety of customers. People come to buy a bottle as a gift for different opportunities. Then she has the “week-enders”, who want to party and are already in the right mood and there are also people who want to spice up their Sunday meal and other people who search for something efficient against their comfortless existence.

Leandra is there: friendly, helpful and in the meantime attentive, seeing that nobody leaves the shop without paying!

Their day ends as it started: a taxi bus brings them home where their own people are waiting for them: the husbands, the children, the family… all of them are looking out. What stories will be told? What did they bring home from work? What will it be for supper? Etc… Etc…

Yes, all of them go back to their houses which they convert daily into homes by their loving presence as parents, partners and family.

The pastoral plan is there as a way to help everybody to become happy in God. It tells also our Pick ‘n Pay staff members how to go the way towards that happiness (we can call it here holiness!) It is a Thank you God for my job, thank you God for the opportunity to meet and to help people, thank you God that you give me the opportunity to earn my daily bread, thank you God for my friends, my colleagues, my family and the joy it gives me and thank you God that you allow me to let people take part in my joy!!!

To all of my people working in that well known shopping center: Don’t worry to much about the Pastoral Plan: You are at the right track and God’s blessing is your part: I am sure of that!

Fr. Edward Tratsaert SAC