The real place

December 15, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

A news feed article released recently had a story about the violin section in a German orchestra that decided they wanted to be paid extra because they play more notes than any of the other musicians in the orchestra.

Sure enough, they probably do play more notes than, say, the triangle player, or the cymbal guy, however, in the big scheme of things, when you take away the rich harmony of the cello, the regal accompaniment of the French horn, and the triumphant sound of the brass, you’d be simply left with a group of people playing violins – and a very empty-sounding symphony – especially when the music score called for a rest for the first violins.

Beethoven didn’t create his works based on a single string instrument. He carefully crafted the blending of various instruments some of which play the melody and some that deliver the accompaniment to produce the final result.

Too often in our society people have a tendency to pass judgment on those with different or so-called ‘lesser’ positions.

However the sum of our society is based on the total contributions made by everyone.

Education comes in many forms, not just the classroom-based version that society has come to deem more important than other methods of learning.

Most apprenticeships in the trades take just as long to complete and be licensed as any university or college degree, and in the end your chances of securing lifelong security through employment is much higher when you become an electrician or auto mechanic than if you receive a degree in liberal arts.

If you removed the custodians, formerly called janitors – and that wasn’t a highly regarded term – from a institution of higher learning, what would happen?

On a cold day when the building’s heating system fails, you would have a bunch of professors with PhD’s standing around and peering into the mysterious inner workings of a boiler room with absolutely no clue as to how to fix the situation.

That’s when an experienced journeyman becomes the most important and knowledgeable person in the entire building.

Quite often you can hear a phrase describing a person’s vocation that is preceded by the words ‘just a.’

“He’s just a salesman, town worker, garbage man, waiter, bartender,” or insert any other job, and it’s always meant as some sort of put-down, although all those jobs contribute something to society and are a part of the cog in the wheel that keeps everything running.

I used to be in a position where I received many resumés over the course of a year. I noticed a trend were virtually everyone was a ‘manager’ or ‘assistant manager’ at their current or former job. No one just worked at The Gap or McDonalds, they were always an assistant manager at the The Gap or McDonalds.

In fact I realized that, through the course of lunchtime conversation, everyone I worked with had a spouse who was also a ‘manager’ at their job.

One friend told me her husband was the ‘manager of produce’ at a grocery store, and yet once when I was shopping there I saw him placing the apples from a box onto the store display.

That’s not what a manager does in most companies.

There’s nothing wrong with being the person responsible for working in a produce department stocking shelves, but the societal stigma of such a position invites people to insert the manager title, quite often incorrectly, to somehow elevate their job title – at least to others.

In some Asian countries that attitude is much different. People view their occupations as positions they strive to excel in, no matter what they do and others respect that.

One local businessman I spoke to recently told me of his visit to Japan and how everyone seems to take their job in life with enthusiasm and how they take pride in their work.

A bartender doesn’t just mix you a martini – he’s proud that he works at that hotel, and that drink he serves you isn’t just a concoction of two parts gin and one part vermouth. It’s something special he created just for you and he presents it as such.

Taking pride in your work should be something everyone strives for and appreciating the services others provide should part of a daily life experience.

After all, a symphony with just violins just wouldn’t have the same flair if they were performing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture without the brass and cannons.

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