Thursday, March 25, 2010

You've Got Your Passion, You've Got Your Pride

After all of my job-related whining (not having a job, having a job but being overqualified for it, blah blah blah wah) a friend recommended the book How Starbucks Saved My Life: a Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else by Michael Gates Gil. It was far from the best book I've ever read, but it did carry exactly the message I needed to hear at this particular point in my life. That message, in the simplest terms, was: get over yourself. But that sounds so negative - and the tone of this book was actually very positive. I don't recommend it as a literary masterpiece, but it might be a nice read if you're a little down in the dumps about where life has plopped you.

And it gave me the strength I needed to make a confession: My name is Tammy, and I like my menial job.

I really do.

I like the people I work with - kids and adults alike. I like the way I am treated there. I like coming home from work and leaving the job behind. I like when a kid tells me a silly story and we laugh together. I play games - games! - on the clock.

It's fun.

But I felt obligated to be grumpy - even embarrassed - by it. Why? Aw, I don't think we need to scratch the surface too hard to figure that out. It's the education thing and the money thing. It's all external. It's not sexy or glamorous or high-falutin' or high paying. There is not a special skill set involved, so the qualifications are very minimal. I'm not saying ANYone could do it, but - oh, what the hell - yes I am. So it didn't make me feel special. Everyone wants to feel special. Even in the moments when I allowed it to make me feel happy, I still didn't allow it to make me feel good. How could one possibly feel good about oneself when one is performing a job that ANYone could do?

Y'know how?

Get over yourself.

Get over yourself, get over societal expectations, get over what you're supposed to do, get over money (ok, I'll admit, that one's proving a little harder to do) and - at the risk of being ridiculously cliche - follow your bliss.

I allowed that attitude to seep in a little yesterday - to wear it instead of just speaking it - and I had a really lovely day for it. I smiled all day long - and people smiled back.

Ah ha!

This morning I needed to run a quick errand. I needed to have something notarized. I did what anyone would do - I googled notary public along with my town. I was given three places - one of which was convenient to my errands. I first hit Kroger to use the Coinstar. (Hey - it's the day before payday - I told you money was an issue.) Next I headed to the place the internet had suggested - a FedEx/Kinko's. As I approached the information desk, the young lady greeted me with an open smile (I reflexively smiled back). I told her I needed to have something notarized and her smile faded fast as she told me they no longer offered that service. I told her their website still advertised it - being careful to do so in a manner that was informative rather than accusatory. She apologized and seemed genuinely sorry that she wouldn't be able to help me. Then she very helpfully suggested the check cashing place across the street.

Now, across the street in this instance didn't mean finding a crosswalk and waiting for the light. No, across the street meant getting in the car and a couple quick turns and through a parking lot and around a couple buildings. But still. It was across the street, not across town. I decided to follow her suggestion. Same thing happened at the check cashing place. I walked in and was greeted (from behind the bulletproof glass) with a welcoming smile. Her smile also faded as I made my request and she was unable to fulfill it. She, too, seemed genuinely sorry that she wouldn't be able to help me. She suggested I try the bank located inside - Kroger - the very spot from which I'd begun my journey.

They were able to do it for me.

My point?

These two young ladies did not have glamorous high profile jobs. I can't imagine that their jobs were very high paying. I'm pretty sure these jobs don't give them bragging rights in social situations. One of them did her job behind bulletproof glass. And yet they did them in a way that made me smile, even through my frustration. When they couldn't help, they made an attempt to help me locate someone who could. The Macy's Santa suggesting Gimbels...

Any job - ANY job - when done well - can bring happiness to others. It's almost impossible to bring happiness to others without becoming a little bit happy yourself. I'm going to try to be a little more conscious of ALL the people who - just by doing their job - make my life more convenient or just a little happier. And I'm going to celebrate them, even if it's just with a smile.

Try it with me! Let me know how it goes...

16 comments:

MiMi said...

Yep, and in this economy, some people smile just BECAUSE they have a job! LOL

Anita said...

Well said my dear. I think part of what keeps me from looking for a job is that I know I'm going to be doing something below my skill set or education............should I be ashamed, heck no, I should just get over myself!

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

This is such a good post. My hours were reduced last year but I was grateful to keep my job.

carma said...

Brilliant post yet again. I saw the Starbucks Saved My Life Guy on CBS Sunday Morning last year (or was it the year before) --- very inspiring dude!!! With the right attitude something as simple as his job can bring happiness. Now if I could only do the same with my job.hmmmmmmmmm

SparkleFarkle said...

Thanks for this big open-up. Once, again, feeling all falling-through-the-cracksy, I needed permission to give myself permission to be me. Thank you, Tammy!

Amber Page Writes said...

You're very right. I needed to hear that today...

Mandy's Life After 30 said...

I'm so glad you're getting a fever and getting more cow bell Tammy.... Just two weeks ago, I made a clerk at Wal-Mart laugh as we talked about hiccups, farts and my daughter saying "I Tooted" proudly in front of her. I know we both made that whole "checkout and pay for your groceries" experience better b/c we both tried, smiled and were human to each other. I'm glad to hear it's not a dying art there in Ohio either.... I always found most of the people in Kroger, Meyer and other Ohioan stores to be rather pleasant when I lived there. Too bad I didn't know you then.... would've been a short 1.5 hour drive and just a few cocktails/beers away from tons of smiles and laughs!

Eva Gallant said...

Yes, it's good to have a job when so many are unemployed. My formet employer laid off all their employees in Maine shortly after I retired! Lucky I was at retirement age.

La Mere Joie said...

That is such a good post. And a reminder that we should be happy with our lot in life. Regardless of our position in the working world. Thank you!

mama-face said...

This whole scenario seems to play out when I go to the grocery store. Perhaps because I worked at one for over 4 years I notice things I might not otherwise. I am guilty of doing the very thing I found so irritating as a clerk...totally ignoring them. Not on purpose...just living in my head instead of treating that clerk as a person. I have made an effort to get over myself, as far as that goes at least, and smile and look the clerk in the eye while we exchange how are you's.

My comment sort of drifted off your point a bit-you know me. Congrats on your job. I can't imagine you not doing your very best at anything your involved in.
xoxoxo

linda said...

Where have I been...I didn't know you went back to work! Whatever you're doing though, it sounds perfect, congrats!

This was a great post and one that some of us needed to read. I try to make eye contact with people and am not the type to belittle anyone, but we do get busy and become impatient with others. It was so good of you to notice the help others were giving you and move on. Some would have made things ugly and truly, life is just too short to make things ugly!

Pam said...

Tammy you know I'm struggling with this same thing. But, I've said it before and I'll say it again, "It's not about the money, it's about the joy."


...but the money does help...

Gibby said...

I read that book, too, and I thought it was pretty inspirational. I sort of wanted to get a job at Starbucks after I read it.

Anyhow, great post. This may be off point a little, but I feel the same way some days as a SAHM. While doing a menial task that I just did the day before, I often think...I did NOT go to school to clean up after dirty kids all day. Admittedly, I have these moments more often than not. But then I remind myself how lucky I am to stay home with these holy terrors and realize how much they actually teach ME. I need to have those moments of clarity a little more often.

Vixen/Apron Frenzy said...

Having lived without so much this last year, I discovered (probably to the chagrin of my family) that I don't want to do the work I've done forever for good money. I just want to do something I enjoy. And what I am picking out will never, never earn me what I made for the past 15 years. But I will do something I really enjoy, every single day.

MaryRC said...

I needed that Tam... WOW did I need that.. Jobs are a huge issue in my home.. For me, my hubs and my kids...

gayle said...

You are so right!! I feel like I treat others better than I treat myself at times! I need to try to like my job better!!