Appreciate your job. It can always be much worse


There’s a slight chance I have the best job in the world.

Well, let me rephrase that: There’s a slight chance I have the best job in the world that I am even remotely qualified to possess. There are other jobs out there that make me envious, such as starting shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles, “man who sleeps on couch in commercials” or “Federal Bikini Inspector,” but I have the job that best suits me personally, and is within my reach.

I get to do what I love, work with colleagues I both respect and enjoy, serve a community that surprises me in a good way on a consistent basis, learn new things every day and see the results of our hard work in a very real and tangible way every week. In short, it’s rewarding, fun and educational. If you threw in a high salary and some bikinis to inspect, I’d be walking on clouds.

Though we all fall victim to the whole “grass-is-always-greener-thing,” I sometimes get that little nudge I need to put how fortunate I really am into perspective.

For instance, there are very few occupations I respect more than farming. That is old-school Americana right there, and the farmers provide us, well, life. It’s a job that is built on creating and nurturing, providing substenance and, to be honest, preserving some of our natural surroundings, which seem to be disappearing more and more every time one looks around.

But it is hard work, and comes with daunting challenges, from governmental regulations to constant upkeep to weather. A bad drought, or heavy flooding or long frost can all contribute to simply wiping away thousands of hours of back-breaking work and personal investment. Plus, there are always those days in the midst of summer when I find myself hyperventilating when walking from my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned office and I remember that farmers and construction workers and others are out there all day in it, busting their humps to keep the lights on at night.

So, in summary, I love farmers, but could never do that job myself.

You could put firefighters and police officers in that same category. I admire how they come to the aid of others and put their own lives at risk in the process. These are noble callings of public service, and no matter where someone might travel in this great country, if he or she finds herself in some kind of trouble, there is instant comfort when seeing one of those uniforms show up at the scene.

But it’s important to recognize that whole “put their own lives at risk in the process” part of that statement. That’s a pretty big part of the job description, and I have settled into a pretty comfortable lifestyle that includes not putting my own life at risk, outside of fatty foods and hyperventilating when I walk from my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned office.

So, yeah, those professions are not ones I could see myself doing at all.

Of course, those above examples are all very good jobs that demand respect and admiration. There are many others that are more thankless endeavors, but equally important to maintaining our way of life. They might involve getting filthy dirty throughout the course of a day or include back-breaking labor that is certain to shorten one’s lifespan or generate rancor from every customer one encounters.

Imagine working customer service for a cable company or airline, for instance. You are constantly being verbally assaulted throughout the course of a day for things which you have no control over, and you are expected to smile and calmly help the individual find a solution that works. I often find myself staring in amazement at the abuse heaped on these people, but they come to work every day and do what’s expected of them because it’s their jobs and that’s what they do.

Really, you have to respect that.

And, in the interests of full disclosure, I am one of those people that finds respect for nearly every profession there is. It’s easy to not wake up when that alarm goes off to go to work. It’s simple to get frustrated at work and just walk off the job because something might be irritating. It’s easy to just do nothing at all and expect people to do things for you.

What’s hard is fighting through everything that you might be dealing with in your personal life and showing up to work. What’s hard is eating negativity all day because you want to earn that paycheck that gets your family food at night. What’s hard is sucking it up and contributing when you don’t feel like it.

But it’s what most of us do, because that’s what most of us have to do. So, that’s why I respect nearly every job.

Except one. I have officially found my limit.

An Associated Press story told of a celebration in Asia on Wednesday for China’s National Day. There were 10,000 doves released during the event at sunrise in Tiananmen Square, celebrating the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Pretty cool, right?

Wrong.

Apparently, China officials are a bit jittery over the prospect of potential attacks, so the government had workers inspect each dove’s feathers and anus for dangerous materials, to be certain they were not carrying “suspicious material.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my official limit.