Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A $4 reality check, an unexpected compliment, and a priceless picture.

I was annoyed today. Annoyed that I had to report in for my 2 day work week after being off for what? 10 day? Who knows. I've lost the ummmphhh for my job. It comes and goes and as embarassed as I am to have such an entitilist attitude about what I do and what I get paid on a hourly basis, I still complain and piss around. I have a recession-proof job. There will always be crime and there will always be sickness, so basically if youre in law enforcment or healthcare, you have a decent job security rate. I make more an hour now as a 27 year old single woman than my father did in all of his career as a 40-60 year old married full time union carpenter with 3 children and I complain that I still don't make enough money. Yet in the midst of one of the worst unemployment crisis and finacial dilemmas this country has faced, I stood in line at Starbucks waiting for my $4 coffee in my paper cup that I wasn't planning on recycling when I was finished, annoyed that I had to go back to work. On...my 2-day work week. As I tried to blend in with the walls (like I do everytime I go out in my all LAPD blue head to toe police uniform), a guy asked me point blank, "Are you a police and fire dispatcher?" "Yeah, I am" I said with my less than enthusiastic tone and facial expression. "I was down there at the old police department about 10 years ago putting in a heating system and I have to tell you, you truly do not receive the credit you deserve for the job you do. You women work your ass off and you no understands how important you really are. The guys on the street get most of the credit. I used to listen to the calls you gals took non-stop and was so impressed with what you do." "Well we do have long days," I spit out baffled at getting such a blatant compliment in public without coaxing. As I stood there expressionless, I had a thought that I sounded ungreatful and...well, just bitchy. So then of course I spit out, "Well it's not all hard work, we have some fun and besides those guys really know who the boss is even if they get all the credit." I don't even think I said Thank You.

At what point did I become so jaded and cynical that I seemingly take for granted what millions of people, billions even, hang all their wishes on? Job security and the means to live a decent and priveledged lifestyle. I mean, I know that I worked hard to get where I am, I know that the people who I work with that know my work ethic and history know that I worked hard to get where I am, but somehow still, I lost sight of being grateful for what you have in a very ungreatful world.

As I often do during my work week, I flip throught the pictures of the week from around the world. Somewhere amongst the pictures of wildlife, civil unrest, and nautral disasters, there was a picture of a little boy in the Congo, 3 or 4 years old maybe, squatting down near a pile of flour that had spilled from a sack. He had swept all that he could scrape off the ground into his little hand and was eating it. "Wow," was all I could muster to say at the picture as I sat there a world away with the half-drank, now cold $4/cup espresso truffle latte sitting next to me. What I could provide with just my spare change to a child with a life like that. What the $2.50 that I ended up dumping down the drain could have probably bought for his entire family for a week... I might not have swallowed all my coffee, but I did manage to swallow some of my pride.

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