Where I live there are often people holding signs displayings ads for $5 pizzas, furniture store sales, and grand openings and not so grand closings.
The person holding a sign is stranded on a corner, totally exposed to the wind and rain and cold, with no one to talk to and nothing to do.
It’s easy to tell when the person holding the sign is less than thrilled by the “opportunity.” Often they use the sign almost like a shield so they can maintain some degree of anonymity.
For many people a job title confers status, so being the guy on the corner holding a sign probably doesn’t provide an ego boost like being a doctor or lawyer or CEO.
But a few clearly view their job differently. They don’t sit. They don’t hide. They constantly shift the sign to maximize the number of people who see it. They work to draw the maximum amount of attention, however briefly, which is of course the point.
And in the process they create their own sense of dignity and pride.
Work, any work, is honorable. A person holding a sign — just like a doctor or lawyer or CEO or pick your respected profession — is doing whatever it takes to make a living and feed a family.
Where self-esteem is concerned it’s easy to be a professor or a manager — the job may be difficult but the title is respected. It’s a lot harder to be the guy or gal standing on the side of the road holding a sign.
When you see someone working a tough job, or a backbreaking job, or a job no one really wants but someone has to do, take a moment and humanize an inherently dehumanizing function: Smile. Say thanks. Show appreciation.
Anyone willing to not just hold a sign but to do the best job they possibly can deserves the highest respect — just like every other person who works harder than they have to simply because they feel it’s the right thing to do.
The honor and dignity is always in the work, and how that work is performed, not in the title.
Always respect the work — and more importantly, the person who does it.