Jobs

I walk to work every morning. It’s a short, yet painful, trudging along uneven paths alongside heavy vehicles and motorbikes that zap by on full throttle.

But I shouldn’t complain. Because every day I see someone who deserves to spend an entire day nestled in a well-furnished, air-conditioned, room pitying himself.

He’s a family man in his late fifties, by the looks of him. I see him quite early in the morning—about 7:30 am—so judging by his eyes, he works all night. His job is to stand in front of a restaurant, wave a baton, and usher ongoing vehicles to stop by for a meal. The restaurant pays him to be their traffic generator.

This hotel is on the national highway (or freeway), and so there are thousands of vehicles—lorries, private cars, motorbikes—passing by every night. And because it’s dark, his baton lights up like Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber.

It’s his job. It’s fine. It’s tiring, but he gets paid. He stands all night, but he gets paid. It’s a menial job, but it’s only one in many such jobs.

I understand, and so does everyone else who walks or whizzes past him every day. But I don’t understand why he waves to passing vehicles on broad daylight, trying to usher the most unlikeliest of drivers.

Often thinking about him, I’ve concluded he does it out of practice. He’s so used to trying to attract motorists that he doesn’t even realise the futility of waving at bicyclists at 8 in the morning. Sometimes he stands there, swaying half-asleep, yet waving his baton hoping someone would pull over.

No one would pull over.

As I pass him everyday, I see quivering within him a soul that triggers on the border of giving up. It’s as if there’s no longer hope and liveliness left in his bereft life.

I hate my work sometimes, but I don’t hate my job. Though on some days I don’t even feel like going to work, I know there’s always a reason for me to go. Something pulls me forward, encouraging me to keep one foot in front of the other. It’s hard to find motivated days at times, but I know they’re there. Because on a deeper level, I still find meaning in what I do.

He doesn’t.

And seeing him live such a mechanical life, waving his arms like a madman, sleepless, lifeless, and soul-less, puts so many things in perspective. Not everyone has the luxury to do what they’d like. Life thrusts on some of us a fate they wouldn’t even wish on their vilest enemy. It’s the reality of our world, a harsh undesirable reality.

If we realise that, perhaps we’d be more thankful for what we do have.

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