The Dead-End Job and the Human Condition
There are reasons upon reasons why people choose the jobs they choose. Sometimes it’s for the passion it evokes in them. Sometimes it’s for the security it provides. Sometimes it’s because they really really like working with small rodents or dynamite or whatever. Most of the time, if you ask someone what they do, there is usually a pretty sweet/funny/semi-interesting story to go along with it. Humans are remarkable that way; we are forever selling mundane antidotes as interesting tales of adventure—the writer of this article — prime example.
If you ask me, as long as you’re earning an honest living, you should count yourself lucky — many are not fortunate enough to have even this.
However, *holds pointer finger up in exaggerated motion* not everyone feels this way. Not everyone deems “The Working Joe” as a respectable way to earn a wage. I know this because I’ve seen it first hand, and it makes me realize how innocent questions like, “What do you do?” can be made into a hurtful faux pas.
When my husband Jamie and I owned our sandwich shop, our customers were fantastic, for the most part. We were able to talk with them, get a few laughs and all around have a glorious 5 to 10 minutes of chat while we cooked them up the greatest sandwich in the world. But sometimes the exact opposite thing happened.
A customer strolls in and looks the place up and down. They see Jamie and me awaiting their arrival from behind the counter and begrudgingly address our cheerful, “HELLO!” with an uninterested, “Hey,” of their own. They look at the menu boards and choose a sandwich, all the while trying their damndest not to make eye contact with us because that could mean talking and stuff.
The customer stares awkwardly out the window, pretending not to acknowledge our presence. Even though both Jamie and I are undeniably loud at existing, always have been, can’t help it.
And that’s fine. Sometimes people really don’t want to deal with the small talk of strangers. I get that. I can admire that even. Here I have to be the chipper chicken (where did I come up with that one? I astound myself sometimes) day in and day out! It’s exhausting.
But what I don’t get, what really burns me up, is when customers would come in acting this way then completely and utterly change their attitude towards us when discovering that we owned the business.
Ah HA! Now the tables have turned, all of a sudden we were exciting. Now, we seemed to be worthy of their conversation. They suddenly had the urge to smile at us and move closer to the register to engage in more meaningful communication.
Why was business owner Lindsay more appealing than cashier Lindsay to these people?
Why was it now in their interest to be civil and kind to me when moments ago my reality bored, perhaps even annoyed them? How could the mere title of my job have changed their opinion of me so drastically?
Being the asshat that belittles a fellow human for working a job in their stilted definition deems ‘dead end’ is by far one of the lamest things anyone can do.
Next time you find yourself out and about rubbing shoulders with society, tell your stories, be weird, make the mundane look beautiful and show the asshats how spectacular the human condition truly is.