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  • Writer's pictureCalvin


Updated: May 13

Back in the days when I had severe social anxiety upon graduating from college, I fantasized about working at McDonald’s as a cashier, to build up my front-facing people skills.  Sure, working at McDonald’s is a “lowly” job as deemed by society.  But during those days, I saw a lot of value in working there – given that my social skills were inept at best.

Spoiler alert, I never did get the chance to work at McDonald’s, nor do I crave to work there anymore these days.  I am comfortable working in the family business and continuing my current career trajectory for the great foreseeable future.

But these days, I think about all the types of value and compensation that society places on different types of jobs.  I used to think that just because someone makes more money in their job, that their job is - by definition - more “valuable”.  More attractive.  So, the businessmen, the CEO’s, the engineers, the lawyers are more valued members of society than the elementary school teachers, the McDonald’s cashiers, the mechanics, and the janitors of the world.

Honestly, that mentality can’t be further from the truth.  Even as of today, if you asked me to be a McDonald’s cashier, I don’t think I can do it correctly at all.  I would be bumbling and stumbling all the way thru.  In addition, those employees most likely go thru tons of training in order to figure out how best to work the register, how to prep the meals, how to communicate with their managers. 

Yes, even these “lowly” jobs of society can produce much value when we look at them in the right lens and perspective.  Back then, I thought about the opportunity to speak to customer after customer at those infuriatingly long lines at McDonald’s.   Being able to practice my communication abilities in a hands-on manner and tackle my fear of public speaking head on.

It wasn’t that bad of an idea now that I think about it.  Now, I’m sure that most people who work at McDonald’s don’t dream of working there for their entire lives.  They don’t dream of flipping burgers all the time and dealing with unruly customers at the checkout lines.  They obviously don’t desire the so-called “lowly” hourly wages that are given to them either.

I guess I empathize with their situation.  Because even though society makes fun of the typical fast-food worker for their place in society, I really do have tremendous respect for them.  Because even now, with my social anxiety relatively in check, I still don’t think I could do a good job of working at McDonald’s.  My demeanor is simply not built for that.

Obviously, I would rather work in other jobs too.  But it just makes me realize that sometimes these arbitrary values that we give to people as salaries is just that - pretty arbitrary.  Just because someone makes less than me doesn’t necessarily mean that I can do a good job of being in their shoes. 

This is not just for McDonald’s cashiers, but let’s say for elementary school teachers as well.  If you asked me to deal with 5-year-old kids every day, from Monday thru Friday, for 9 or so months per year, I would eventually become a headcase!  Yet, schoolteachers are notoriously known for being underpaid. 

I don’t envy their situation.  And again, I am fully satisfied as of now with the job that I most gratefully have.  However, I do respect them and realize that not everyone can do their jobs.  It comes with a specific set of required skills, required training, and required dedication.  And not everyone is built for that.

If you asked Bob Iger (CEO Of Disney) of LeBron James (basketball extraordinaire) to be schoolteacher of some random high school in New York City, I’m sure they would pull their hair out in a matter of hours on the job.  Just because they get paid a thousand times more (and that is an arbitrary estimate) than the average schoolteacher doesn’t mean that they are better than them or can fulfill their responsibilities.

So, in essence, we all depend on each other.  The “high level” jobs and the “low level” jobs are all needed for a fully functioning society.  For a fully functioning economy.  Of course, there are reasons for certain jobs to be paid more than others.  And I am no expert in the economics of salary determination. 

I would just say that next time you go to a fast-food restaurant such as McDonald’s, try to realize that even those employees have a certain set of skills that you do not have.  Even those employees have real value to society and are investing in themselves - developing certain traits that will inevitably make them more valuable in the world today than they were before.

I think back to those humble days of just graduating college and not even knowing how to speak coherently in a group of people and I still wonder if I could’ve made a good McDonald’s employee if given the chance at that time.  Anyways, try to be kind to the people “below” you.  Be kind to those whose job title society deems to be “not sufficient”. 

Because often (regardless of job title), they can all contribute greatly to the well-being of your own cushy (or not so cushy) life.

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