Instead of taking lunch today, I spend the hour at my desk as a finance company rep tried to make me smile in order to earn his business. A young guy from another lender, promising to help impaired credit customers, spoke about his company. I felt out of place, being perceived as a person with power. It's not something I'm used to.
Immediately afterwards, a rep from a warranty company stopped by, complimented me, then asked to sit and speak with me regarding service contracts for the cars we sell. He spoke like the iconoclastic salesman: telling stories, using "business jargon," and doing his best to build rapport so he could get a sale. I found the whole thing quite entertaining.
While the guy talked about the other 84 dealers he worked with, I thought about the beginning of The Godfather, and how people lined up to ask Don Vito Corleone for a favor "on this, the day of my daughter's wedding." I sat behind the large, wooden desk...listening to each of them silently. They asked for my advice, they asked for money, they asked for patronage.
I wondered if they'd kiss my hand, were I to stand and extend it.
Power. If they could find a way to bottle that taste, no one would ever drink beer again. Truly, it is the opiate of the masses.
As I sit, considering the power I have at my new job, I'm reminded of the life of St. Francis, eagerly trying to establish his simple rule while Pope Innocent III and Emperor Otto of Brunswick feuded over control of Europe. Both men were perfect examples of how power can cloud the mind. Yet despite his new-found powers, St. Francis of Assisi never let it go to his head.
Francis understood that the true purpose of power was not to serve oneself, but to serve others. He realized that John the Simple, Giles, Bernard, and his other followers were not underlings, but his brothers. It was up to him to look after their physical and spiritual well-being, even to the detriment of his own.
I don't have the capability nor the grace to do anything as great as Francis did, however I am aware of power and it's warm caress...drawing me to surround myself with it more and more. While my position in the car business will do little to help the Catholic Church, perhaps just being aware of that power is a step in the right direction. Perhaps my awareness is proof of my "growth," and that I can't fall in love with material things like I used to.
Maybe I've finally realized that money, power, and things will never make me truly happy.
Too bad St. Francis didn't write more about living a celibate life. That part of my life is getting complicated.