My wife is the principal of an inner-city Catholic elementary school.
With the first day of school only five days away, this inspiring little educational community found itself without a custodian.
So I was drafted into emergency janitorial service.
I spent the weekend cleaning toilets in that steamy building constructed over 100 years ago.
A menial job.
It made me think.
Lots of people are full-time potty scrubbers.
That's got to be brutal.
I've got it easy.
Do you appreciate the people that carry out demeaning tasks?
Do you look down on them?
I hope not.
Ever been to a horse farm?
Somebody shovels manure in those stalls.
Someone removes entrails from a slaughterhouse at a Chicago stockyard.
There's a cable TV show called "Dirty Jobs".
It features a host participating in the grossest and filthiest employment known to man.
One segment featured people who scrape pigeon droppings off buildings.
Despite the fact that you wouldn't get caught dead in one of these jobs, these folks toil away with a certain nobility.
The new film release called "The Butler" contains an interesting message.
Inside the White House, the most honorable personage at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may have been the quiet unassuming manservant who was a witness to history.
So what's your attitude toward menial work?
You know, if you've ever been thrown into the role of caregiver for a dying relative, you've had your share of bedpan cleaning and related chores.
That should earn respect for nurses who are the mainstay of works of mercy in the ICU.
So what's your attitude?
Do you look down your nose at the true princes and duchesses of the working world?
I like them.
They are the real people as far as I'm concerned.
The world can't function without them.
But their pay is usually at the bottom rung of the compensation ladder.
If you get the chance, show them that you respect them.
If your order at the diner is the $1.99 breakfast special, don't leave 30 cents as the tip just because you've calculated 15%.
Leave a couple bucks and then say "thank you".
When you check out of your hotel room, write a note of appreciation to the hotel maid and attach a ten or twenty dollar bill.
Cleaning your room wasn't easy.
It's a tough job.
Lawyers and doctors are well paid for interesting and fulfilling work.
But the grungy load of the minimum-wage worker can be made a little lighter by your attitude.
Most of us, despite our hard work, have had a few breaks along the way.
Born into a good family with a little money.
You didn't do that. Your parents did.
Not a racial minority? You did nothing to achieve that.
When you observe the fruits of hard labor, appreciate the gnarled hands that struggled to create convenience and comfort for you.
Look upon the denizens of the least sought after jobs and tell yourself this.
There but for the grace of God go I.