Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Heart Work!

I've worked a number of jobs in my life, and I can honestly say that I will never be able to tolerate being jobless for even a month. It's not just about the money, either. 

For example, when I was sixteen, I worked at a fast food restaurant. After years of easy living, all I could think of was quitting. At night, while washing dirty trays and mopping up floors, I cry inside, thinking that being humiliated tenfold and being treated like a subhuman serving creature is not worth the less-than-minimum wage that I was getting. But after the initial shock, I began to pay more attention to the nuances of the job and less attention to what I was being subjected to. 

I began to discover the value of working in a clean environment, and found the idea of scrubbing floors sort of relaxing. I always chose the closing shift, because in cleaning up, my mind is mostly unoccupied and I can use the cleaning time to daydream in peace. Cleaning up the day's mess is therapeutic, especially with the idea that the restaurant will open its doors to a brand new day in the morning, its slate wiped clean. 

In the morning, having to wake up at rude hours just to be able to ready the store to face the day isn't as bad as it sounds. There is the smell of fresh coffee and fresh everything, and people are mostly in a good mood. It is also nice to stretch one's muscles from slumber by doing productive work, and it is always satisfying to be able to bring smile to people's faces by being friendly and giving useful service.

Lunch time is the most challenging part of the day. People are hungry and impatient, but as somebody puts it, one can attract more bees (or flies) with honey than with vinegar. During the day, I practice to the limits my ability of "grinning and bearing it". People often take things at face value. A sweet smile, friendly voice, and the keen ability to concentrate is all that one needs to survive the lunch rush, converting a hungry mob into a well-fed crowd.  Of course, there is always a fluke customer, maybe someone having a bad day and taking it out on an innocent individual (who had the misfortune of being born having to work at the age of sixteen), but it would do no good to let such people ruin my day.

When people complain about their jobs, I can relate to the feeling occasionally, but I will never quite get it. I believe that each and every job has a good side and a bad side. Even the CEO's of the biggest corporations don't have it easy - imagine having to worry about hundreds, or even thousands of kids relying on you for their tuition fee and baon (lunch money)! If you screw up and make bad decisions for your company, their parents (your employees) will have no sweldo (paycheck)  to take home. Each word that comes out of your mouth can make and break lives. 

Loving one's job can be the best career move that people can do for themselves. When one loves his/her job, one does it well. I remember a guy who used to sell pet fish in a small store at the UP Shopping Center. One can tell how interested he was at pet fish. Anyone who happens to wander by will be regaled by fascinating facts on fish, their exotic species names, and first-hand knowledge on how to care for these animals. Won't it be nice to buy fish from this guy instead of buying from someone who's totally clueless and sounds like he can't even remember what he's supposed to be doing? 

This attitude applies to every sort  of jobs. I can't  quite imagine a world in which Steve Irwin doesn't love crocodiles, Jean Michel Costeau doesn't love the ocean, Lady Gaga doesn't love to perform. What if Julia Child became a historian rather than a cook? What if Bill Gates became a lawyer rather than a software magnate? What if Shakespeare became a glove maker rather than the greatest playwright in history? Julia, Bill and Shakespeare had different career paths open to them, but they chose the path they love the most - and did the world good for it. Someone put it this way: the greatest part of happiness and misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. 

There is, of course, a thread of difference between learning to love what you do, and doing what you love. I for one, will keep chasing my dreams by doing time and paying dues - for now. I may wake up every morning to a whole new day of answering phone calls and typing documents, but at least I will do so with a smile.