It’s funny how little things can get under your skin. For the last several months I’ve passed by this sign every morning as I enter my building at work. It never fails to bother me...and not just because of the horrendous grammar.
As you might have guessed, there is a construction site next door. This isn’t at all uncommon, because if there is one thing we do very well at UCF it is build new buildings. However, it seems like we hold the men and women that physically build our shiny new edifices in very low regard.
Allow me to rant for a minute…what the heck?!? Why can’t the construction workers use the air-conditioned bathrooms inside our building? What do we think they are going to do…urinate all over the floor or something? And do we really need a sign with a stupid little emoticon to advertise to the world that construction workers are not allowed inside?
If I was one of the construction workers…I would be mightily angry about this blatant display of disrespect. While not a big thing…it is without a doubt an unnecessary slap in the face.
This minor injustice makes me also consider how disrespectful our modern society often is of many professions…and by association, the people that work in them. We often claim that our culture values “work,” but I’m not so sure that is always the case. For example, how many times have you heard someone say to a young person, “you better do such and such…you don’t want to end up working at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart or as a garbage collector, etc?” Sure, these jobs aren’t glamorous or lucrative…and most people would ideally not want to do them their entire life…but the bottom line is that somebody has to and there’s no reason to ridicule people for doing honest work. I mean…not everyone can be a doctor, a lawyer, or do whatever it is I do for a living. Now don’t get me wrong…I’m all for self-improvement and striving to be your best, but the type of job you have should never define your value as a person. I can say for a fact that the really important things that define me as a person…my character, my intellect, my creativity, my compassion for others…never depend on what type of job I have. And I steadfastly believe that this is the case for everyone.
I’ve experienced firsthand the feelings of marginalization that can come with certain types of jobs. After I graduated from college, I had a hard time figuring out what to do with my professional life and my life in general (it’s still very much a work in progress). As it turned out, I worked for two and a half years at a tennis club…answering phones, maintaining courts, etc…making about $6.50 an hour plus whatever I could scrounge together teaching a few tennis lessons here and there. The entire time…I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure because there I was with a college degree working part-time for minimum wage on a staff filled with high school kids. It didn’t help that people would continually ask me if I was going to get a “real job.” I can only imagine what it’s like to work in a job that our society considers less than desirable for one’s entire life. But I do know that no one should ever have to feel embarrassed by their work. It’s just not right…and we as a society can do better.
Getting back to the sign that set me off, while I haven’t done anything about it (which is pretty typical), I am considering going out in a blaze of glory and imitating Def Leppard on my last day (boo-yah…old school pop music reference!). I’ve noticed the sign is plastered up with copious amounts of Scotch tape…probably to protect against removal by the savage construction workers…but I feel like I can manage to “Tear It Down.”