“Honest work”: a few words

Today at 3:55, I was sitting at my desk at my visiting elementary school, trying to look busy as usual. At that school, I have a set schedule and never teach any classes after lunch, so it’s a challenge to find enough to do in those post-lunch hours.

Then, one of the vice principals made an announcement over the loudspeaker. I caught a few things: it was an announcement for staff, something was beginning at 4pm. I got up to ask another teacher what this was about, and it turns out the teachers were all going to do a massive cleaning of the school to prepare for a school festival-ish thing next weekend. I decided to see what I could do to help.

When I joined the other teachers outside to weed the garden/playground area, everyone apologized profusely, mostly about me wearing a skirt and joining them in a dirty job. This happens often. Whenever someone else gives me work to do, they fall all over themselves apologizing and expressing regret that I have to go to any effort. It’s just a cultural thing, but I wish people understood that I actually cherish having tasks to complete! And if they’re as menial and straightforward as pulling weeds, so much the better!

It’s impossible for me to explain it to my coworkers, but I would so much rather be out in the dirt doing something productive than sitting at my desk in the stuffy staff room as the blood pools in my lower body.  I truly, honestly, 100% don’t mind making hundreds of copies of a worksheet if it’s work that needs to be done. I guess I’m saying I enjoy doing these modest tasks because it makes me feel useful. At work, I want to feel like I’m contributing something. And hey, I was given a delicious little mochi this afternoon for my 30 minutes of hard work. 🙂


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