People talk about the issue of class as if it were a thing of the past, but I’ve discovered that there are still those who look down on others because of their job. I’ve been doing some driving work in between gigging to keep the pennies coming in and it has surprised me just how many people look straight through you because you’re not doing a job they see as valuable.
When I was teaching there were always those who looked down on you as they believed the “Those who can do…” nonsense, but mostly people recognised your role and you in it. As a delivery driver I’ve been grunted at by grown men, patronised by a couple of idiots at a well-known department store, sneered at by receptionists and ignored by many others.
I have to say that the domestic deliveries are fine – most of the people you meet are lovely and happy to get their post. They are polite and treat you well, but there are many in companies – and I don’t know if it’s just an Aberdeen thing – that are just rude. I don’t know if they even know that they are doing it but the curled lip, short response and looks you get are surprising and make you feel around two foot tall.
I’m sure I’ve done it to an extent myself – maybe we all do – but coming from a very working class background with a joiner and housewife for parents you learned to respect people regardless of their career. I would never judge a postie or checkout worker or sales assistant just because of their job – for all you know they have a PhD or have recently retired from a high-powered job and just fancied something different. There is nothing to say that just because you have qualifications you will be working and earning at the perceived levels society expects.
And the sad thing is that those “little” people doing “unimportant jobs” are in fact the backbone of companies. To look down on the person with the sandwich van or the storeman or janitor or handyman is missing the point. Those in their ivory towers would not be able to do their work properly is the cleaners hadn’t cleaned and the janitor hadn’t replaced the bulb and so on.
As a teacher I always chatted with the office staff, the jannies, cleaners and other staff because they were just as important as me in that building. All workplaces are a combination of skills and people and to ignore any one shows you up for the snob you are. In life there are very few queen bees but millions of drones and some people just get above their station.
Having been on both sides as a very public figure who was recognisable and now driving around town in my van dropping off documents and parcels it saddens me to think that the job you do lessens your value or usefulness. Without waiters there’s no food, without the man in the van your prescription wouldn’t be ready to pick up at the pharmacy and without me you wouldn’t have that £300 pair of shoes you ordered on-line.
I was always told to treat others as you would want to be treated, and I try to do that regardless of who I am speaking to. Some people need a wee reminder from time to time – but I have to bite my tongue at times as it’s not worth the hassle, they’re probably too stupid to understand the point anyway.