Thursday, November 10, 2016

Job Dignity

My friend and I were talking about the future and how more and more jobs will be automated, further creating the chasm between high- and low-paying jobs.

My friend was saying, "look at that security guard. Must be so boring. What kind of job is that?"

I understood what he meant and said that, yes, part of the challenge is the economics, but part of the challenge is a societal one.

I shared a story with him of my experience in Japan.

When the Shinkansen ('bullet train") pulls into Tokyo station, the cleaning crew gets on and does their work.

Then, they disembark, line up in front of the train and bow to customers.

While they are bowing an announcement comes over the loudspeaker. It says something like "dear customers, we are honored to have prepared this train for you. Please enjoy your ride."

It infuses the job of the cleaning crew with such dignity. Some things Japan just does right.

I thought of this the other day when I received a card int he mail quoting


“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” 

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