“I can’t stand this place.”

That’s what he told me, one of the first times we met. 

“I’ve been here over twenty years, and I can’t stand it.” 

I sort of got that impression already, and politely just kept my mouth shut; a skill that’s improved greatly as I’ve grown older. 

He continued on with a litany of complaints. The things he wouldn’t do because they’re not “his job”, the boss hates him, etc. Then he moved on to various co-workers. Each with a story of starting out as them being friends and ending with a falling out between them. Each with a common denominator of course. Only one of us seemed to realize that, and again, my mouth was staying shut. 

And honestly I couldn’t understand 95% of the complaints. He has an easy job for the most part. There’s a lot of tougher jobs out there people are doing for less money. I thought I’d seen a few myself, until someone came along this week that showed that even I’ve had it pretty good in the long run ( not counting some of the long term effects from my previous vocation ). 

The two guys pulled in our driveway, not even on time. No, they were early, and gave a phone call to let me know they were on their way. Both friendly and smiling as they removed the giant hoses  off their truck, dragged them across the yard, connected them, and got down to business. Each introduced themselves with a smile, impressive considering what they were about to do. 

Without breaking their friendly demeanor they opened the lid to our septic tank, stirred that nasty layer on top up and began cleaning out the tank. All the while friendly, answering my questions and doing their job professionally. When done they packed up, answered a few more questions and left, still smiling, still friendly. 

“What a dichotomy,“ I thought to myself as they pulled out. 

On one hand someone with a job offering good pay and benefits for next to little actual “work” in the physical sense tells a complete stranger how awful they think they have it. And then two guys whose job it is to vacuum strangers’ shit out of a hole in the ground show up to do the job like they have got it made. 

I’ve no doubt their boss takes good care of them. At least, I hope he does. But even then, it’s pretty impressive isn’t it?

A former boss used to say what he did wasn’t work. “Work is something you do with a shovel or hammer,” he’d say. Never has that statement been more glaring than in the past couple weeks. I just wish more people could take a lesson from it. See how easy they really have it in the grand scheme of things.

We need little reminders like that once in a while.