In my last column I wrote about what a dream it was to travel with my group of sorority sisters, all of whom are, in addition to being kind and funny and smart and entertaining, women who are capable of functioning at all levels and accomplishing all tasks without being asked.
Now, having been back in the nightmare that passes as reality for a few weeks, I’d like to write about the opposite experience. It can be summed up in one sentence: “Not my job.”
I think I might slap the next person who says “Not my job” or some variation on it.
Okay. We get it. You aren’t paid to do whatever it is, or you didn’t cause the need for whatever it is. But here’s the thing. “It” needs to be done. “It” is right in front of you. “It” is convenient for you to do, and “it” will only take you a few seconds to do. The world will be a better place if you do “it”.
Just think about it for a moment: imagine a world in which everyone saw things that needed to be done and just did them. Trash on the sidewalk near but not in a trashcan? Take two seconds to pick it up and put it in the trashcan. Dishes in the sink that you didn’t dirty? Load them in the dishwasher anyway. Phone ringing at work but it isn’t your job to answer it, but the person whose job it is already has three people on hold? Answer it.
Think about this dumb scenario: Let’s say you go to a burrito shop, one of the millions of clones that pretend to be different in which you have buckets of ingredients behind a plexiglass shield and older teenagers pile the ingredients you choose on giant tortillas and then roll them up. You’re hungry. You just want a simple burrito. You order a plain flour tortilla and some chicken, black beans, some pepper jack cheese and lettuce. The one other thing you want is the chipotle sauce. You love the chipotle sauce. The whole reason why you came to this particular variation on burrito shop is the chipotle sauce. So you say, “I’d like some chipotle sauce, please, and that’s it.” The kid just stands there, and slides your burrito to the left. You say it again, thinking maybe he hasn’t heard. “Chipotle sauce, please.”
The kid rolls his eyes. “I heard you. I’m not the sauce guy. Trey is the sauce guy and he’s busy.” You look over, and you see another kid with a nametag that says Trey and he is serving what looks like a Mom and four seven year olds in front of you. The seven year olds cannot make up their minds about what sauces they want. They keep changing their minds. The Mom looks like she is about to lose it. Trey doesn’t much care. He gets paid by the hour.
“Why can’t you just grab the bottle of chipotle sauce and scoot me ahead of these folks?” You ask with a wink and a smile.
Your kid, whose nametag says Scooter, which in no way makes you more patient, says, “I can’t. It’s not my job.”
So, of course Scooter can grab the bottle of chipotle sauce and squirt some on your burrito, saving you probably fifteen minutes of your precious lunch hour. There is no one behind you on line, so Scooter moves to the back of the restaurant and grabs his phone, leaving you to wait impatiently for Trey to finish up with the seven year olds.
Your hair catches on fire. The amount of negative energy you spew into the universe could potentially power a small city for a week if it could be harnessed.
This is what I’m talking about, only on a smaller scale. Why is the dishes scenario any different? So what if it isn’t your job. Can’t we all just be helpful and clear out some of the negative energy around us? There is enough in the world that is ugly and negative because it has to be. Why add to the mix?
I know this probably sounds like hippie dippie stuff to a lot of people, but it might also sound like basic kindness and graciousness to a lot of others. Imagine that world: If we all just walked around not worried about being ‘put upon’ by extra work, if we banned not my job from our vocabulary, but rather worried about making sure that the world we occupied was a decent place to occupy.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.