It’s been rather hectic at work during the past few months. Which, of course, is a good thing because we all remember a decade ago when it was so UN-hectic at most businesses that many folks lost their jobs.
During this hectic time, it can get quite stressful, and I occasionally find myself muttering, “I must have the most stressful job in the world!”
This is a rather foolish thing to so say, since I don’t even have the most stressful job in my office. We have a team of commissioned salesmen, and they not only have to deal with cranky contractors all day, but not a penny of their income is guaranteed. If they don’t sell anything, they don’t get paid anything. I don’t know about you, but going into each new month not knowing whether you’ll receive a paycheck would keep me up all night worrying.
As I was thinking about work-related stress, I started paying attention to other people I encounter during the day. Many times each week my first stop in the morning is at a Dunkin Donuts store. I’m sure my engineering clients are delighted to see me when I arrive at their office, solely because of the technical knowledge, scintillating conversation, and up-to-date baseball information I bring with me. But possibly the bag of three dozen doughnuts I’m carrying brightens their mood, too.
Every time I step up to that counter and say, “Three dozen doughnuts, assorted, and senior discount, please,” the young DD employee’s whole countenance sags. As she glances over my shoulder to see seven other people impatiently waiting in line, for a brief moment the will to live disappears from her sullen eyes. Then she snaps to attention and frantically starts shoveling doughnuts into boxes, all the while apologizing to the other people in line.
At that moment I realize, “Her job is more stressful than mine.” And even though she has the fabulous fringe benefit of being surrounded by tasty doughnuts all day long, I’m pretty sure I do not want to switch paychecks with her.
During the past few months I’ve visited my dentist and a couple of other doctors. I’m sure these folks are well paid, but their day-in, day-out grind must be pretty stressful. When I do my job, there is no risk of accidentally causing an injury and drawing blood and getting sued (unless I have my eye on the last doughnut and someone else reaches for it first).
Then there’s my brother, the cop. Yes, he works in a fairly quiet suburban town, but nowadays there’s the very real chance that some drunk yahoo will try to run him over or take a shot at him. Plus, his shift keeps rotating every few weeks — days, evenings, midnight — which makes sleep deprivation a way of life. His job is definitely more stressful than mine.
It’s probably not a coincidence that the most beleaguered and tormented character in the entire Bible is named Job. (Pronounced “jobe,” but we all know what those three letters really spell.) Talk about stress! Job endured a series of devastating losses to his family, property, and personal health. Through it all, his so-called friends “cheered him up” by insisting that he surely had done something awful to deserve such hardship.
And don’t forget the folks who work fulltime for newspapers, who enjoy low pay, long hours, and tons of stress. (I don’t fall into this category, by the way, as I’m just a freelancer).
So, the bottom line is, my job is hardly as stressful as I think it is. But it would be nice if everyone was a tad less agitated at work. Especially me.