Sunday, April 14, 2013

What you bring to the picture

If you have children who are currently finishing college or have graduated in the last five years or so, you're probably quite aware of the challenges that generation faces in the job market: there are jokes about needing a phd to qualify as a barista these days.

What I like about this photo, taken at one of my favorite local coffee shops, is that it reminds me of two important facts:

1) We can no longer make assumptions about the providers of the so-called menial services -- if, in fact, we ever could: they might, of course, be ne'er-do-well stoners who can't hold down any more challenging position, or single moms holding down a job while going to night school ( to name a couple of popular assumption categories). But they could also be artists, or laid-off executives desperately trying to make mortgage payments for a house purchased in wealthier times, or people working to pay college expenses -- or pay off college debts -- for themselves or their children -- or any number of other possibilities: the point is, the old generalizations just don't work anymore.

Which brings up questions broached in the comments for an earlier post: we humans learn by generalizing, but at some point we need to be willing to set aside those old filters to truly see.

2) We can always choose how we approach a job or task, however menial, and we can always find a way to bring our unique talents to the picture; to give it that little extra dollop of attentiveness that shows we really care. And if we make that choice, it not only relieves the tedium of the job, but also blesses those whom we serve.

I'm hoping I raised my daughters with that understanding. Because I suspect they'll have lots of opportunities to practice it -- for a while, at least...

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