As I met with colleagues from the Juneau Empire last week about our Labor Day special section, I started thinking about the trail of past jobs that eventually led to my current gig here in Juneau.
One of my worst jobs was as a telemarketer when I was 16 years old. Nobody likes answering the phone to find a telemarketer on the line.
I'm sure some of the "greetings" I received would have been more PG-13 appropriate had they known they were talking to a teenager. In the end, and by "end" I mean three weeks after I started, I was cursed at so many times I eventually walked out the door and never returned.
Then there was fast food, a car wash, a pizzeria and landscaping (which was actually one of my favorite jobs). These were all before my 17th birthday, mind you, along with several other jobs I won't mention for the sake of whatever dignity I have left. I will say that one of them required wearing a giant rodent costume, and that's all I'm saying about that.
After leaving the Army in 2002 and returning to college life, I held a few other jobs that were certainly nothing to brag about either.
Reflecting on my earliest experiences in the workforce made me realize that every one of those horrible, tedious, degrading jobs was a blessing in disguise because each helps me to appreciate where I'm at now.
All of us could probably complain about our careers for hours on end, and many people do on a regular basis. The most common reasons to complain are: working too many hours, not earning enough money, working next to coworkers with annoying habits, etc., etc., etc. The reasons could go on and on forever.
But if you think back to what you were doing five or 10 ago, like I did the other day, you'll realize the place you head off to each morning isn't that bad. In fact, I'm willing to bet most of you genuinely enjoy your jobs for the most part.
A mentor of mine once said, "Your best job is always the one you're about to start and your worst job will always be the one you're at."
How ironically true. The key is to focus on the little things that make us happy at work, whether it's the daily challenges, being near coworkers whose company we enjoy, or the satisfaction and fulfillment of a job well done.
Both the Capital City Weekly and Juneau Empire are pushing for submissions for our annual Labor Day essay contest, aptly titled "Why I love my workworld."
I encourage all of you to take a few minutes this week and reflect on your jobs, whether you're in a traditional office role or leading tours up to the glacier, and think of all the positive aspects that led you into those respective fields. If you like, write an essay and e-mail it to us (and possibly win $500 - details below).
The point is to spend a little bit of time thinking positively about what you do each day and how your role fits into the grand scheme of things in Southeast. Most of us spend more time at work than we do with friends and family, so to be miserable and dread going to work in the morning merely salts an open wound.
And remember: It could be worse. At least you're not the guy in a rodent costume.
For more information about the "Why I love my workworld" essay contest visit us online at www.capitalcityweekly.com/laborday. Essays can be dropped off at the Juneau Empire and Capital City Weekly offices or submitted by e-mail to email@example.com.
Charles Westmoreland is managing editor of the Capital City Weekly and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.