Yes, I get to live my dream. That's pretty much always been the case as long as I kept my nose to the grindstone and my eyes on the prize, but this isn't about me.
We had many interesting encounters during the last week, and it made a big impression and gave me a lot to think about.
Several times during our stay in the Big Apple, my sister and I discussed how gracious people were, and how they seemed to take joy and pride in what they did for a living.
It started out with a malfunctioning shower in our hotel room. Strange plumbing is always a challenge for me, so I dragged Maryanne into the bathroom to see if she could get it to work. Nada. Then I called the desk and asked if there was some trick to it. They sent up maintenance, and it turned out that a part needed to be replaced. The Russian man who came to fix it turned down our offer to go to breakfast while he worked, and had it done in about 15 minutes. My sister joked that back home it would take several days, and he said, "Ah... but this is the Holiday Inn!" and smiled as he left.
At breakfast, our waiter Singh asked where we were from, and we found that his cousin has a gas station in the area we grew up, and a home less than a mile from our old house. He told us how he loves our town, and that his family in India are farmers. I asked if it was a difficult transition from the farm to NY, and he agreed that it was. He took very good care of us during our stay, and made a point of saying goodbye on our last day.
Later, on a shuttle ride to the trade show, we sat close to the driver. We watched as a driver in a small car pulled out of an icy space and did a u-turn directly in front of the bus, and that led to a conversation with Lena, our driver with a very thick Spanish accent. She doesn't like driving in the city much, preferring runs to Atlantic City, but they needed her. She told us that she has 4 awards for her driving, that her daughter is a doctor, and that she is very proud to wear the uniform - even if her mother doesn't understand why. Her bus company gave her a diploma, and it was the only diploma she's ever gotten. She framed it and it means as much to her as a PhD might to someone else. She LOVES her job.
This is in contrast to some women who sat near us on another shuttle and discussed the various merits and disappointments in exotic vacation locations they've visited. Or the vendor who told us about how difficult the grind is going from show to show (and I do know that's true). Or the goof on the train home, trying to impress a young woman with tales of how much work he manages to skip out on.
This is not a commentary on immigration. NY is a thrilling mixture of accents, nationalities, and ethnicity. I cannot imagine what it would look like if it were homogenized, but still that's not the point here.
So often my friends and I talk about perspective, attitude, and creating our own reality. Over and over we were treated to living, breathing examples last week. None of these examples were typical goals that we think of in our lives, but these folks were living their dreams. It was inspiring to see. All work has value, but it is up to us to find the happiness in it by taking pride in our performance of that work.