My first paying job was working at a small town branch of a chain grocery store.
But, being a teenager, everything sucked. School. Work. Grown-ups. etc.
Fortunately for me, I had some good influences in my life with regards to working. My Dad, my brother, my brother-in-law all worked hard. Sure they bitched and complained about it, but they also worked their asses off for people who didn’t often appreciate it. They took pride in what they did, didn’t matter how easy or hard the job was.
I’m definitely not as hard-working as they, but that mentality stuck with me. I didn’t like working at the grocery store, or most of the other jobs I had in the years that followed. But I did whatever job I did to the best of my abilities. That included cleaning toilets, bathrooms, floors, dealing with irate customers, lifting and carrying heavy things, working on scorching hot days and bone-chilling nights. The jobs I had weren’t even the worst kind of jobs to have! There are people out there doing much worse jobs, the kind of jobs not many would want t do.
But I would never, ever, consider them losers.
But lately, I’ve been listening to people talk about such jobs, and saying that the people working these jobs are losers. Part of the reason they say these things is for the benefit of their kids. They don’t want their kids working at these “loser” jobs for the rest of their lives. Their logic is to make these people so unappealing that the kids will fear ever becoming someone like that. These same people also used the same logic with regards to their kid’s fellow students who aren’t doing well in class.
Lazy kids. Lazy adults. All losers.
I have a big problem with that.
A blanket statement like that about people just shows how little the person speaking really knows. It shows an utter lack of compassion or respect for anyone that they perceive as lesser than them.
In short, a person saying such things thinks they are better than everyone, when they couldn’t be further from the truth.
The people working at Wal-Mart, pumping your gas, serving your coffee, making your meal at McDonald’s, or any other numerous low-paying, less than glamorous jobs probably didn’t think as a kid “When I grow up, I wanna work at Burger King!” No one does. They may have had a plan, an idea of what they wanted to be. But life isn’t like the movies where through hard work, you get everything you want. You can work like crazy, and never get everything.
But that is life. It is unexpected. Always changing. Sometimes it leads you to the love of your life. Sometimes it takes that love away. You can work hard and plan for everything that you want, only for something to happen and scatter your plans to the wind. It doesn’t even have to be some so dramatic. It can be simple things too that derail us.
Take screenwriting for example. Only a small percentage of screenwriters make a living out of it, while the rest toil away on their latest masterpiece. Are those that don’t make it losers? NO! Maybe they have a family and can only squeeze in a few hours a day, or every two or three days. Maybe they work three jobs to pay the bills. Maybe they have to take care of elderly family members. Maybe they are dealing with emotional turmoil. Even if they have stacks of scripts ready to be made into movies, there are lots of other steps that hinder them. Many give up, whether they have written scripts or not, because life can be quite distracting. Those that make it got there on skill and determination, but they may have also had luck and timing on their side as well.
None of these people are losers.
Just as those working those unfavorable jobs aren’t losers. Their life may be very different from those people who look down upon them, but it doesn’t make them worth less. Everyone has hardship. Some get through it by bitching and moaning. Well, that’s human too. Everyone bitches and moans about their day, their job, their life, people they meet, the weather, crappy TV, EVERYTHING! Some know the time and place to vent, others don’t. That too is being human. But sometimes, no amount of venting can help, cause some slog through hardship for years. Some never escape it. The only ones that are losers out of those people, are the ones who succumb to booze, drugs, or crime. The first two give them escape, whereas crime is a stupid solution, cause, like booze and drugs, it only makes things worse.
One things these people don’t realize is that maybe some of these people are happy. Yes, a shocking thought to those who feel superior, but maybe some of those people working at Wal-Mart, Tim Hortons, Target, or wherever are actually happy, or at least content with their work and their life. Some may have retired, but if they didn’t have one of those jobs, they’d sit at home alone sinking into misery. Some may actually enjoy seeing their co-workers. Some may be married and this extra little bit helps make their life better. Speaking from experience, one of the better Christmases I had as an adult was when I worked at Wal-Mart! I was bathing in Christmas spirit that year! Maybe it’s that, and other job experiences, that make me sympathetic. Oddly enough, it isn’t the low-paying, retail-type jobs that stick in my mind as terrible, it’s the jobs where people felt entitled and superior. No matter what job I had, I never felt that I was a loser.
I’ve always tried to judge people on their actions, their words, and how they treat people. I’m not always successful. I’m not perfect. I’m just as flawed as anyone. But to judge people based on their career just shows that person’s ignorance and fear. They are ignorant of other’s lives and have no compassion for anyone. They are also afraid of becoming that so-called “loser”. They are also afraid that their kids will become losers, mocked by others like themselves. So they use that fear to push their kids to succeed, instead of using something more positive and inspirational. Fear is an easier motivational tool than inspiration, but it is also more negative, and instills a prejudice. If these people truly understood how quickly life can change, and how quick the high-and-mighty can fall back down, to become a “loser”, maybe they’d begin re-think their thoughts and words.
Many of us heard the old saying “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” It may have been followed by a scolding a cuff up back of your head.
In Buddhism, karma refers to the things we do, say, or think, especially when they come from a positive, compassionate, and open-minded place, and how it can affect our life and those around us.
In the Bible, Luke 6:31 says “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Good, simple words to live by.
Whatever you believe, or don’t believe, negativity begets negativity. Saying negative things about others, for no more reason than fear and ignorance, is a true sign of weakness and lack of character.
Personally, I think Abraham Lincoln said it best…
“Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”