Cotton Candy Pride
In light of the fact that Mother’s Day is this weekend, I’d like to share with you one of the best pieces of advice my mother ever gave me. She said, “Any job worth doing, is worth doing well.” Think about that. If something needs to be done, it deserves to be done with consideration and effort. I can’t think of a single job that requires only half-effort. What’s the point? Where’s the pride?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a ton of different ‘jobs’. Some of the more unique jobs I’ve had in my life were, juggler’s helper, show skier (water), ‘reader’ to a blind man (Wall Street Journal), amusement park concessions and I once gave hydrotherapy baths and wraps in a resort salon. I’ve also done more normal jobs, like retail sales, office worker/file clerk, and I waited tables, which I think everyone should do at least once if you are physically able. Talk about perspective when dining out!
There are some jobs I’ve always wanted to try, like grocery cashier, flight attendant, tour guide, like at gardens or at an old castle. And, I think it would be a blast to run those Segway tours. Oh and I’ve always dreamed of being the female version of Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men. I want the truth!!!
The other day, writer and instructor extraordinaire, Mary Buckham posted an interesting article on Facebook about famous authors and jobs they once had. I also heard a story on the radio about some well known music artist (I can’t remember the name, which won’t surprise anyone who knows me) who sometimes dresses in sort of grubby clothes, complete with ball cap, and hangs out at a park tending to the landscape. The point was that during that time, he’s ignored. I thought this was interesting on many levels but for purpose this blog post, I thought it was telling that as a landscape worker—helping to make a park clean and maintained, he was ignored, but as a singer/musician, he’s idolized. I’m not trying to put down musical artistic talent. I’m a writer, I can’t wait to have my artistic work be enjoyed and appreciated. But that doesn’t make the fact that I also have the job of my gym, or as a homemaker, any less important or vital. It certainly doesn’t mean I should give less effort to those jobs. Cleaning toilets is less glamorous that writing books, some days, but they still have to be cleaned and quite frankly, I believe they should be cleaned well.
So often we place some perceived value on jobs, making some more worthwhile than others. Take the restaurant business. From your hostess, to your server, to the cook, to the dishwasher … all play a vital role in the process. Trust me, you don’t want that dishwasher to do a half-butt job because he’s ‘just’ a dishwasher but wants to move up to waiting tables. He needs to believe his job is just important. Note to servers out there — tip-out well to your dishwashers, host/hostesses and bussers! Your tips wouldn’t be as good without them!
One summer, I worked for Sea World in the Food Services department. That was the fancy name for concessions. See, even they knew that people would likely be more proud to say they worked in Food Services. Anyway, I turned 20 that summer and my coworkers who were 16 and 17 considered me old. Like ancient. Most of the summer, I was assigned to work in the cotton candy hut. I had never made cotton candy before. I don’t even like cotton candy. In case you don’t know, basically you spin sugar in these huge metal drums until that fluffy sugar comes out. Then you ‘hook’ an edge of the sugar-ring and flip it around the paper cone, sort of patting into the desired shape. There are different speeds on the machine too. At first, I used the slowest speed and I had to pause the machine to catch up or to bag my cone of lopsided fluff.
Eventually, like I do in most things, I made it a challenge. Could I keep it on the high speed? Could I make uniform, awesome-looking cones? And the ultimate challenge, could I stay at warp-speed, spin, flip, and form cones AND bag, twist and tie my masterpieces without ever skipping a beat?
Oh, yes I did! My hand to God, I’m still proud of that.
I’ve always taken my mom’s advice to heart. Every job worth doing is worth doing well. To give less than your best is not only short-changing the job, but in the end, you’re cheating yourself because your best effort is always worth it.
What about you? What unique, off-the-wall jobs have you had? Who wants to have a cotton candy making contest? Of course, I’ll have to brush up on my skills, since I do like to win.