Monday, December 17, 2012

Working the Grill Again

For a recent fundraising activity for our company's United Way efforts, the company department that achieved a specific fundraising goal first would be served a pancake breakfast by our senior executives.  

On the appointed morning I got there extra early to assure myself of the job I wanted, and that was working the grill.  One of my first jobs in junior high was working the grill at our local A&W root beer stand, and while it was tough, hot work, it was fun and provided enough funds to keep me able to buy new music and go on dates.

Despite my age and the manual labor involved, I always took my job at the grill seriously.  I wanted to make things for people that I'd want to eat myself, and, as such, I developed a couple of independent processes and procedures above what I had been taught.  A couple were adopted by my boss, and who knows, maybe are still at play today.

So when I got to the grill to make pancakes for our United Way winners, I was very much at home.  The normal restaurant crew that works our company cafeteria was there to offer help and instruction, but once I was armed with batter, I didn't need much of either.  I just went to cranking it out.

I worked for nearly an hour behind the grill.  I had forgotten how much heat they kicked out, and I had a pretty good sweat going.  The cafeteria crew was quick to compliment me on my productivity and quality.  It was fun, hard work.

What wasn't fun, though, were some of the comments made by my peers and others during the process.  "Hey, Yellowdog, you're doing a great job!  You got yourself a career if this whole Ecommerce thing doesn't work out!"

I didn't mind hearing it.  I minded like hell that it was said in front of folks that actually do that as THEIR career.  

It was elitist and insensitive.  While I was able to step in and make some pancakes, that didn't mean the job was easy.  In fact, if the kitchen were open that morning and the normal rush of breakfast order had come it, it would have been impossible for me to keep up.  Likewise, while I worked hard to get to my existing position, I recognize that had some bad breaks befallen me throughout my life, a career behind a grill might have been my path.  

Hard, honest work - be it behind a hot grill or a cluttered desk - is not a thing to be patronized.  It is a thing to be recognized and celebrated.  

Regardless of who is doing the work.

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