In September, my 18 year old son Clay packed up his car with most of his worldly belongings and moved to Portland Oregon, 2000 miles from home. I love the nerve; I really do. There were four of them that planned to go. One bailed before they left. One made it to Boulder, and one flew home a couple weeks ago, leaving my boy all alone on the left coast.
We flew out to see him a few weeks ago. It sure felt good to grab onto him. It’s the longest I’ve ever gone without him. Snapchatting just doesn’t do it for me.
He has himself a job packaging marijuana in the basement of high volume recreational pot business. Yeah, it was hard to type that just now, but it’s the truth, so he and I can just own that. I guarantee my dad wasn’t typing that into his blog when it was true for him. I quit doing drugs of any kind 22 years ago, and it was truly the best decision I ever made. I’m not just saying that. The best. More on that another time.
I want to be the right amount of supportive and not supportive for Clay; healthy in other words. I do not want him to work in this field at all but I’m not going to preach either (unless invited, which he’s careful about). On Saturday we were talking about his work conditions, things like his hours and fellow employees. At one point he said, “it pays good money and it’s ‘easy’”. Easy. My son has an easy job. Forget that he packages pot, I can’t believe my son is bragging that his job is easy! Where did I go wrong?
Easy jobs are the jobs that I knew a long time ago I had no interest in. Any time I’ve ever heard anyone say their job was easy, I had the same thought: they’re settling. Raise your hand if you think the same thing every time you hear someone say that.
People that want easy jobs have no idea how wonderful work can be. They do their work to collect their pay so they can get on to the life they love: their time away from their work.
Now don’t get me wrong. There is not a certain kind of work that is necessarily easy by its nature. I value any good and ethical work people do in the service of others, and I value the people that do that work. For me, when someone says their job is easy – it is more a peek into their heart and mind than into the actual job they are talking about.
I started in the pizza business delivering pizza. A lot of people would call that easy, and in many respects it is. But I loved that work and still do. I poured my heart, head, and hands into it. I memorized all the streets in order and taught other drivers in the store the pneumonic devices I used to remember them (Really Stupid People Eat Lemons Now = Randolph, State, Prairie, Elm, Lynn, New). I tried to set the record for the number of deliveries in a single shift. I truly tried to wow the customer and earn their future business.
I was all in on my easy job and any observer would have been able to tell. I was fully engaged, bringing all my faculties to the work. I would not have been more engaged or hard working if I had been a lawyer or teacher. I believed in the work from the beginning. Restaurant work is noble and humble work serving others. I have always fed on this notion of my work being of service to those around me. If you are proud, hard-working and fully engaged in your job, then you are gaining sustenance from your job that goes far beyond a paycheck. You are living a life at your job.
OK, now I’ll fess up. MY job is easy. A truly easy job is one that wakes you up in the morning when it’s still dark (or for you late night Toppers people, while it’s still light!). An easy job is one you can do your whole life and still feel like you’re just getting started. You know you have an easy job when you are torn whether your work time or your off-work time is more fun and rewarding. An easy job is one that you always have on your mind.
Everyone does deserve an easy job. But I’m in the camp of people that believe that easy jobs are often hard, often highly skilled, and always involve struggle and long hours, but pay you back with a real life.
Clay is a special person, and I admire so much about him. He has an incredible wit and humor. He is very smart and a talented artist. He is a risk taker and an individual. I love him just the way he is. I just want him to Never Settle and eventually to find an easy job.