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Lust shares firsthand experience of working with P.I.

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 11:38 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 11:42 a.m. CST
(Nicole Wiegand/ Daily News)
Lance Lust stands with manager Becca Decker at the Newton McDonald's, where Lust has worked for six months after working with Progress Industires to find employment. Lust is a writer in his spare time, and hopes to someday become a published novelist.

Lance Lust is a jack of many trades. Not only has he mastered the rigorous training that goes into food preparation at the Newton McDonald’s, but Lust is also an avid writer.

Lust has worked with Progress Industries since 2008, beginning with the COPE Program workshop. He then took a job working at the Iowa Speedway — a stepping stone into community employment for many of the people P.I. serves — before joining the team at McDonald’s in May.

“We’ve been placing people (at McDonald’s) for years,” said P.I. Employment Consultant Debbie Mettler. “We have four people here right now, but we’ve had lots of people off and on.”

“The communication between (P.I.) and us is great,” store manager Becca Decker added. “We communicate what we need in an employee, and they work really well to find the right person for us.”

In this case, Lust was just the right person for the job.

“I’ve noticed with Lance — he’s able to do so much and it’s nice to depend on him around the store,” Decker said. “We can rely on putting him in lots of different spots.”

Lust agreed to share about his experience at McDonald’s firsthand with the Newton Daily News. His commentary is as follows:

In March, my job coach notified me of an interview at McDonald’s. I went to the interview only expecting to gain more experience of how to improve myself for interviews and left with a job. I was first shown how to clean the lobby. The next day during orientation I used a computer to learn skills in job prep, the grill and how to work the fryer. I finally got back to the grill and started the real learning. It’s been a slow process but I am glad that they were willing to take time to help me learn the job.

I must admit I was a bit afraid that I would not fit in. I was told that work there would become like second nature and that if I was patient I would soon go into auto-pilot mode, and indeed I did. It was hard work but well worth it and I am still learning new things. It helps to have the appropriate instinct because a lot of the work depends on how quickly you can pick up on things. 

Fries, like the grill, took some memorizing. It was simple enough, but a lot of finesse was needed. I still have a lot to learn, which can be difficult for every person; with or without a mental illness. We’re all people and if you are willing to tweak yourself you’re the right kind of person to seek out a job in the community.

I, myself, loathe that phrase: “Job in the Community.” It sounds scarier than it is, but even though I knew this from working at the Iowa Speedway, it’s still there and in your head … the worry that you are not good enough. But like my dad said to coax me into school: “Just do your best!”  And that is exactly what I’ve always tried to do. 

There were times that I chose to wallow in denial, but here I am today, a far cry from the past. Finding the freedom to learn to choose something other than the negative can get you there. There are still days where negativity looms deep in my mind. Negativity is exhausting but I have people close to me who encourage me to do my best and it all ends up being not in vain (on most days).

One needs to remember to learn from one’s mistakes and shortcomings and find areas to excel that will get you where you want and need to go. Support from my job coach, coworkers and supervisors help to make it easier. Without the grain of “I will try” it can all certainly go downhill, and quickly. Sometimes it goes downhill even with that grain, but if you are still willing to give it your best even when your best doesn’t seem good enough you can indeed get a lot back. Try your best and if it doesn’t work, there is always tomorrow.

I continue to write in pursuit of becoming a published novelist. Some days I have the knack and others it just isn’t there, like many things in life. I always have an idea and something new is always cropping up in my mind that keeps me motivated to write, much like the support of P.I. and coworkers who encourage me to achieve more in all areas of life.

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