Publisher's Note: Thoughts on working

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By Tom McDonald

If you are a working stiff, sweating away eight or more hours a day for someone who’s making the “big bucks,” there’s a good chance that you feel unappreciated.

Or, if you’re a boss, stressing out over all the problems that confront you, you probably know that, from time to time, it really is “lonely at the top.”
And if you’re somewhere in between the laborer and the boss, you probably don’t have enough to make ends meet, but you do have too much to lose, so you keep on showing up, day after day, hoping for something better and praying for nothing worse.
Welcome to the world of work.

I’ve run the gamut of jobs in the good ol’ U.S.A. I’ve worked so hard my hands bled, and felt pressure so intensely that my heart raced. I’m a boss nowadays, but I’ve spent more time taking orders than giving them. I’ve dug ditches, laid shingles, worked jackhammers, driven trucks, and hung from scaffolding enough to know that, in my latter years, I’d rather be at a desk than in the trenches.

I’ve actually lain in bed dreaming about doing the same damn thing all night long, then I would get up in the morning and go to a factory job to do the same damn  thing I dreamed about the night before.

Working can be a grind and a hassle. It keeps us up at night; it can haunt our dreams. We do it day in and day out, and if we’re not careful we wake up one day and find that, well, we got old.

Or, if we’re lucky, we find that we’ve done pretty well for ourselves and our families, and that what we do actually gives us some additional meaning in life. For most of us, what we do to make a living is actually a big part of who we are. We are what we do.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that no job is as easy as it looks to someone who’s never done it. That’s why everyone, from the janitor to the CEO, deserves our respect. I think it’s low-class to be rude to a waiter or waitress — they’ve got a tough job, but sometimes people treat them as second class. To me, such behavior says more about the rude customer than it does about the worker.

Another thing I’ve learned is that there are honest mistakes on the job and dishonest mistakes — at least that’s what I call them. An honest mistake is an oversight, an unintended screw-up, the result of being human. A dishonest mistake, on the other hand, is the result of mean-spirited intent, when a worker knows it’s not right but does it anyway.

I mentioned that to Christian Montaño, Las Vegas’ police chief, the other day and he immediately related to what I was saying, except that he referred to them as mistakes “of the head or of the heart.” You make a mental error and it’s forgivable; just do what you can to fix the mistake, learn from it and move on. A mistake from the heart, however, is different — it’s intentional and malicious — and, we agreed, it’s a fireable offense.
Here in Las Vegas, there’s a lot of government work. Once I thought those were the plush jobs — decent pay, good benefits, job security — then I talked with a mid-level government employee who told me about all the politics he has to put up with. It made me cringe, and think about my own plight. Yes, my job has its hassles, but having to fit into someone’s political agenda is not one of them.

Most days, I love my job. Other days, I have to remind myself that it’s better than being jobless. After all, a prerequisite to the “American Dream” is avoiding the unemployment nightmare. Maybe that’s why that waitress is willing to put up with those rude customers. It’s better than the alternative.

Tom McDonald is the Optic’s editor and publisher. He may be reached at 505-425-6796, ext. 237, or tmcdonald@lasvegasoptic.com.