Working Hands

I was at the local bottle depot, returning my empty cans and bottles as I had done so many times before, except I visited a location that wasn’t my usual spot. No big deal, I just happened to be in a different neighborhood. As I was sorting through the empties, I noticed that one of the employees at the depot was an old elementary school classmate. I hadn’t seen her in about 20 years.

When I got up to the counter, she recognized me too and we got to chatting. She was quick to tell me that she was only working at the depot part-time for extra money as she pursued other interests and career opportunities. I got the sense that she was trying to defend her position there, as if she had to justify working a job like that some 15 years removed from high school.

She didn’t need to. There’s no shame in earning an honest paycheck.

The Superiority/Inferiority Complex

One of the problems that I have with today’s society is that many of us are raised in a culture of entitlement. We feel like the world owes us something and, after we’ve hit this milestone or that, certain jobs are now “beneath” us. Like we’re better than that and, by extension, we are compelled to feel like we are “better” than the people who work these jobs.

We shouldn’t.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a paper pusher in a climate controlled office, a beet farmer who gets his hands dirty every day, or a stay-at-home parent. If you work your job to provide for your family, you’re doing the right thing. If you’re at a job because it’s a stepping stone to bigger and better things, you’re doing the right thing. If you’re able to do what you love, even if it’s not the most lucrative career out there, you’re doing the right thing.

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

Life can be difficult and making ends meet can be strenuous. During the leaner periods of my freelance life, I’ve contemplated returning to the “normal” work force on a full-time basis. I’ve thought about taking on an entry-level part-time job to supplement my income. While I have been fortunate to keep up with exclusively freelancing for nearly a decade, I do not feel that a job in retail or manual labor is beneath me. If the needs demanded it, I’d be there.

White collar, blue collar or no collar, there’s nothing wrong with an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Except when you make money on the Internet and passive income becomes the more confusing name of the game. Then, how you define a “day” of work or a “day” of pay becomes much more ambiguous. But that’s another discussion for another day.