Odd Jobs in an Odd Economy: A Reality Blog by Daniel McLeod

Workplace Zen

There is many a thing to be learned in the workplace. Whether you’re pushing papers in a cubicle, performing triple bypass surgeries or shaving dogs, it’s always good to keep your eyes open for more efficient ways to get the job done. The ability to refine your style and to think from different angles gives you a major leg up when battling it out on the labor market.

Yeah, you can never master enough job skills, but too often that’s all we think of when it comes to workplace learning. What about the intangibles? What about interpersonal skills like the patience we strengthen while working with a difficult coworker?  What of the personal Zen a colleague may impart upon us to help get through the day? Indeed, there is a hidden economy humming away at work that most of us never ponder, an economy of intangibles that helps us grow as human beings each day we cross our employer’s threshold.

Often it’s in the smallest interactions that push our consciousness a quantum leap forward. I’m reminded of a break a boss once called. It was one of my first days on the job assembling tractors and we made small talk for a few minutes before he got to what was really on his mind.

“You know, I spent 21 one years with the totally wrong approach to women,” He told me, reflecting on his marriage that had fallen apart a year earlier, “Men want to get laid right?”

“Sure,” I said.

“Then why do we shoot ourselves in the foot all the time?”

I shrugged.
“You just can’t expect a woman to be all warm and caring after calling her a ‘fucking cunt’ all the time like I did. You have to compliment them. If they like flowers, then bring them flowers. Tell them you like them.”

Standing there, taking a reprieve from the toil of building black market John Deer knockoffs, this man named Hal, my new boss and mentor,  had more wisdom to impart.    

“You’re young. You’re making decisions that will effect your future,” Hal continued, “If you get married, don’t make the same mistake I did. Make sure you find the right woman. You need a woman who will do anything for you if she truly loves you - up to and including fucking other men.”

“So marriage is kinda like being a pimp?”

“Exactly. That is how she can express the depth of her commitment to you.”

So that’s what I was doing wrong! Until then my success with women was modest, but I could already feel the tide turning. Sure, the idea of this under-the-counter job sounded a bit nutty at first, but it was paying off in spades. I never expected to find a friend of a friend of a friend to be such a sage.

Such is life and the lessons learned as we duck, weave, stumble, and dance through the working world. Not only did I pick up the skills to build compact tractors from scratch and spray paint them green, but I also took to heart tools to help build a house of love.

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