My first job was waiting tables at the Dan Dee Restaurant outside of Frederick. I was 15 years old and worked, often full-time, throughout my school years until I was 21. Waitressing is hard work! I returned home every evening with sore feet, a sore back, and smelling of smoke, grease, and fried chicken.
It was at the Dan Dee where I learned the value of finding dignity in our work. I learned the value of showing respect to others, even when their behavior did not merit it. I learned humility, kindness, teamwork, managing expectations, making good on your promise, but most importantly, I learned the importance of servanthood. In every job, there is an element of servanthood and therein lies the dignity in all that we do.
Everyone should be required to wait tables at some point in their lives.
As a corporate trainer, I have the luxury (and honor) of working with a wide variety of industries. When I begin working with a new client, I always arrange time to observe the organization’s employees working in their environment in hopes of capturing the essence of what it’s like to live and work in “their world.”
I have walked the halls of a correctional facility with the Warden, watched the chaos in an elementary school’s office the last week of school, rode on a school bus during morning pick-up, watched ice cream being made in a manufacturing facility, and even spent time in the Alzheimers unit of an assisted care facility.
And in all of these experiences I am reminded of one important fact:
We are different.
And yet, we are the same.
In every human heart there is a desire to find meaning and dignity in the work we do.
On this Labor Day, my hope is that you understand that what you do, regardless of what you do….
Be proud of that.