It was quiet in my local sandwich shop yesterday, and the clerk was sitting at a table finishing his own lunch as I walked in.  He grumbled and headed to the other side of the counter.

In the course of his preparing my BLT, I found out that the cranky clerk was actually a fairly decent sort, just fed up with his job.  He’d only been there a short time, but you could see it all over his face.

I asked what the staff did on off-hours like this, and he said, “We sit alone with our thoughts.  We ruminate.”  He smiled at that word, as if to say, look, I’m smart.  He told me he was in law school, and had only a year and a half to go before he’d be practicing law.

“What type of law?”  I asked.  “Financial law,” he replied.  “I hear there’s a lot of money in that,” I said, pleased at the unintentional double entendre.  He said, soon he wouldn’t have to “Work in a place like this…. making sandwiches.”

As difficult as it was, I kept myself from bursting his bubble.  I didn’t want to tell him that even lawyers have to deal with tedium, menial tasks, and Heaven forbid, customers.  You may call them “clients” as an attorney, but this little sandwich shop job is the best training anyone could ever ask for.

What happens when your boss gives you a job poring through files, stockpiling figures and cross referencing data for weeks on end?  How about when you get a difficult client that thinks your time is less valuable than his?

I wanted to say, I hate to tell you, son, but every job has its moments.  The difference is the attitude.  At a time when the unemployment rate is sky-high and most of us can’t afford to send our kids to college, much less law school, you’ve got the whole world in front of you, but all you see is the cold cuts and condiments.

Perspective and a positive attitude can transform a dead-end job into a chance to learn life-skills and build character.  Whether you’re wearing an apron or a suit to work, you’ll always be working for somebody.  You might as well learn how to do it, right where you are.

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