"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get a job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it."
- Ellen Goodman
I've seen the above quote shared several times on social media. It's supposed to be one of those deep, meaningful, stop-and-make-you-think observations. Granted, it made me stop and think, though I'm not sure it generated the sort of reaction that was intended.
We've all daydreamed of hitting it rich and no longer having to work. A jobless life of wealth and relaxation is sought after by many. Of course, for most, it's not possible. So, it's off to work we go. A lot of folks look upon this as some sort of drudgery or punishment. We judge our lives (and the lives of others) by what sort of employment is to be endured, and how much we have to show for it.
But what is the alternative?
A friend once became seriously upset when I posited the notion that a job at a grocery store was just as important as, say, an air-traffic controller. He felt insulted for ATCs. His reaction made me feel insulted for grocers. I mean, assuming that everyone on the planet can't be farmers, how else are we to obtain our food? Come to that, what of the truck drivers who transport the food to the stores? And the farmers who grow the food? It's a long, complex thing, that particular chain.
A few months ago, on vacation, I traversed several states and enjoyed a nice get-a-way. At one point I thought, "This is the life right here. I'm doing it wrong all the other weeks out of the year. Why am I stuck in an office five days a week when I could be out exploring the country and the world?" Further reflection made me realize that I wasn't being realistic.
Pretty much every aspect of my vacation was possible because of people working at their jobs -- jobs they probably, at some point, wished they could escape from. From the roads I drove on, to the gas stations I used to fill-up the tank, to the hotels and motels we stayed at, to the restaurants where food was prepared and served, to the entertainment areas we visited and enjoyed: Everything was a job for someone to do.
Therein is the great truth of our human civilization. We don't work just to earn money. We work because things need to get done. Even the stuff that may seem minor -- working at a movie theater, for example -- serves a purpose in that it is done so there can be places for people to kick-back and enjoy themselves.
The world needs jobs, from the mundane to the exotic. And we need places to live. And transportation of some sort. So why take a swipe at working for a living and paying for those things? It's decent, it's honorable and it makes the world go round. Why scoff at it being the norm? To paraphrase a great playwright: It's normal because it's normal.