I used to have this dumb, ego-driven idea that I was better than people who did things for work that were “beneath me.” Here’s how I learned to stop being stupid.
The lesson came from an obvious place that wasn’t so obvious once upon a time: God. I expected a lightening flash or something like that, not realizing God works through other people instead.
I’ve needed these graces, because as a thick-skulled punk in my 20s and some of my 30s, I always had the idea that I was better than other people if I had a big career. If you worked in the grocery store, the laundromat or the docks, you were beneath me. Truth is, I WAS beneath a lot of the folks who do the jobs I don’t have the skill or patience for. My attitude was all based on my personal insecurities.
This morning’s lesson came in the form of a Toronto cab driver.
I got in the taxi at 3:30 a.m. for the trip to the airport and, ultimately, home. I haven’t had the best opinion of cab drivers in the past. It’s nothing personal. I just couldn’t relate. More my problem than theirs. The fellow who got me to the airport was extremely cool, though.
He asked me all about the upcoming midterm elections in the U.S. and what I thought of it all.
He asked if I had any kids. When I said I have two, he wanted to know about them. Then, he told me all about his family.
He smiled for the entire drive.
As I get older, I realize there are a multitude of motivations that drive us toward what we do for work. The most important thing every time is providing for our families. Getting to do so is a gift, even if the work isn’t always pleasant.
I’m lucky because I love my job. Getting into journalism and then focusing that on Internet security was the right path for me. But I wouldn’t be able to pull it off without a lot of people doing those “lesser” jobs.
Most days, I’m only as good as the local Starbucks barista, the guy who keeps my car running (because I suck at the handy stuff, including auto mechanics) and the priests that help me get the spiritual medicine I need.
And the cab driver who gets me around the places away from home.
Judging other people and pondering whether I’m better than them or vice versa got old somewhere along the way.
Let’s hope it stays old.