Enjoy Your Crappy Job


job


Metaphorically speaking, I kissed my share of frogs.

I was reminiscing yesterday about some of the employment positions I have held in my life. My memory was jarred when I recalled a conversation among high school teachers to which I was privy a few years back. During their discussion, they apparently all agreed that “competition saps motivation.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In my experience, once I graduated from lawn mowing and snow shoveling as a kid, I took on a myriad of odd jobs through high school, college, and into my twenties. Gift wrapping school uniforms with Mrs. K breathing down my neck is near the top of the bad job list. The worst has to be scooping out the contents of cesspools, pouring the contents into garbage cans, and delivering the mess to the dump. That was indeed a crappy job.

There were many others. I sold men’s cologne and paperback books, drove a forklift for twelve hours a day, and stacked boxes of books onto trucks by hand. I worked the night shift in an aluminum can factory. Factory work is terrific. I really enjoyed standing on an assembly line putting the left rear wheels on toy trucks moving along a conveyor belt for my entire summer vacation one year.

Picking up litter is particularly memorable. I worked at a swimming pool and beach, but I was too young to be a life guard. Picking up garbage from the sand is little fun. Eventually, I did become a life guard, but it was not about looking for girls. I actually had to work. It involved training and SCUBA lessons. When I was on duty, there was no time for lining up dates. Off duty, I had to work the concession stand, selling hotdogs and burgers until I was back on the chair. It was not glorious. In three years, I accomplished little more than blowing my whistle. I do remember my last day on the job. I sat on the chair for the last time, and then hit the concession stand to help with the lunchtime crowd. Someone put out a grease fire in the kitchen, so I walked outside to escape the smoke and get some fresh air. As I meandered past the pool in my cooking smock, a little child who could not swim fell in the deep end. I reached in and pulled him out without even getting my smock wet. It was my only save, with little glory and even less pay.

I could rattle off about thirty other boring, thankless jobs, as I am sure you can. However, here is the point. All the crappy jobs I had as I began my journey through life constituted blessings. As I grew older, I knew exactly what I never wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was motivated to pursue any path that would lead me to a world where I could love my employment situation and be rewarded at the same time.

I definitely enjoy writing and teaching, and I cannot even envision retiring someday. But in a national atmosphere of entitlement, I am not sure young people today are willing to seek out the crappiest of jobs. We climb ladders from the bottom to the top, not vice versa. That is an easy lesson to learn. Yet, work ethic appears to have disappeared in America.
 
Now, I realize that broad generalizations can produce fallacious results. However, it sure does feel like devotion to lousy jobs in hopes of getting experience and building a reputation in order to achieve economic security in the future is a concept of the past. The idea has been thwarted by the rhetoric of politicians who are the modern-day slave owners of an entire dependent generation. They simply do not realize climbing the ladder is the American Dream. 

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Comments

  1. Sometimes broad generalizations are derived from accurate observation.

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    1. Joeh: I agree. I don't believe they are born that way, but we are leading them down a path to dependency. While politicians focus on trivialities, they should work on changing the mindset of our youth, moving them toward financial independence.

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  2. Agreed and seconded. When I tell my son about my days working in a pizza parlor or as a custodian at a day care facility or as a housekeeper in a tourist town, he cringes and says he'll never work fast food or labor. Hah! Well, we've got him stuffing envelopes for pay, so at least he's getting in some grunt work. I think the thing that bothers me most about the rising generation is the sense of entitlement. Work is a valuable principle.

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    1. Crystal: Exactly! We have an obligation to our children to do exactly what you are doing with yours. There is no doubt he will grow up to be a fine human being, and a successful American.

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  3. Oh yes, you rock my boat JJ and my own memory of those crappy jobs as well, and the benefits, wisdom and experience I learned from every single crappy or not moment. But what's really my final answer to many of those from my life, is that many were the best medicine ever. Perhaps it was his "So happy to see you smile across he worn face that early morning) he was in my wing, and I felt honored knowing that I cleaned up the diarrhea mess from a smiling happy-faced-older-nursing-home man who was covered in it from head to toe.

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    1. Karen: I can feel your soul right through the computer. You are a special lady.

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  4. Isn't that why so many immigrants are here? They are willing to do the grunt work that our spoiled society won't do. Am I wrong?

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    1. Denise: I would think many of them are here for that very reason. Most of our families came to America for the same reason - opportunity. They should not be denied. However, opening our borders to the entire world, unchecked due to political ideology, is a poor way to help them accomplish their goals. Those who will help our nation excel will be lost among the millions who wish to take and not give back.

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  5. They think everything should be easy and handed to them. Their parents DO NOT help disabuse them of the notion. Their parents keep their idea alive that they are special. They are not.

    I wish I had the "Unicorn" video I saw a few years ago about the upcoming generation. It was perfect.

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    1. A-M: I do blame the parents a great deal. They have obligations to their children, but it is easier to be their "friends," until it is too late.

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  6. Working yourself up the corporate ladder from the mail room is the only path to being an effective CEO. How else do you really know a business? Mom and pop businesses provide the total picture; it's not to be missed if you want to know how business works. Most workers don't understand that it's the customer who is signing their pay checks. It's such a simple concept too.

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    1. Linda: Yes, a very simple concept. Whether it's a billion dollar company or a local deli, the concept is the same.

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  7. I think it only took me a day to realise what jobs I didn't want to do. I regret time I had to waste on them. But hey, that's life isn't it?

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    1. Jenny: Don't have any regrets. Undoubtedly, they helped make you what you are, and from what I see of your accomplishments, that's not bad!

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  8. What Denise said. People complain they are taking our jobs, but no one else wants to do them.
    My worst job was cleaning whitewalls at a car wash one summer. I lasted all of a week.

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    1. Alex: I can't disagree with you or Denise. I do not buy the "taking our jobs" theory. American youth are being misguided.

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    2. Hey Alex! I recognize your name from the A to Z Challenge. I signed up for the 2nd year. #smallbloggingworld

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  9. Another enjoyable post.
    I went to work right out of high school, well I worked part time in high, but got my first full time job right out of high school. It motivated me to go to college;) So I think there's much truth in what you say.
    Okay, I can't pass this one up. Regarding your life guard job: Not everyone gets to blow their own whistle:) And that's probably enough of my warped humor:)

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  10. Dear JJ,
    an impressing list of jobs - and to rescue a little child: wow! I always thought the work I did while studying was interesting: I worked in a chocolate factory (and learned that a brand name contained the same - very good - chocolate as the cheaper one; I modeled - that were super jobs, but honestly: for a while, with the knowledge that you have other work after that). To learn how other people earn their living: that alone is worth the little jobs one had.

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