More than 15 years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to the land of rising sun for the first time to visit my relatives there.
I remember standing across this train station in Kyoto, and this guy dressed in grey overalls, was furiously wiping the hand railings that nobody uses. The area was situated at a desolated corner outside of the station.
And I was so mesmerised, I wasn’t even aware 30 mins just went by, while I looked at him and so many thoughts were flying through my head!
- The railing very dirty meh? It look so clean leh. Why he wipe until like that.
- Nobody use anyway, why still clean it?
- Is his supervisor around? That’s why he cleaning so furiously?
Then after that… HE WENT ON TO SCRAP THE ALGAE OFF FROM THE BRICK WALL! Omg, I was like omg… this kind of thing also need to clean? And the algae were like not visible, not like one big patch kind.
But I realized why I was so captivated by this man – Job Ownership and Passion.
And I was able to feel that he was enjoying it, although I am right across the street!
Growing up in Singapore, we will hear things from elders saying “If you don’t study, you grow up to be a garbage collector or cleaner etc”
But in Japan, or other countries, nobody look down on one’s occupation or judge someone by their job title or salary.
In fact, jobs that we think are lowly paid, eg, electrician/cleaner/construction workers, are paid even higher than the average office worker in Singapore.
I remember meeting my uncle’s family in Japan, he introduced his son-in-law as a refuse collector. I was quite surprised and the entire family was proud of what he does.
Soon after, I started to travel to Japan at least once a year to visit my family and started to notice how suave these garbage collectors are. FYI, if you go Hong Kong, you need to check out the construction workers. ALL GOT ABS ONE and with chiselled face features! LOL.
Anyway, I just wanted to say don’t judge someone by their occupation, pay grade or fancy title. Because, I was already being judged and criticised a couple of times since I started selling smoked meats.
It is always something along the line that I did not study hard, I did not have good grades, that’s why cannot find a good job and am selling meats now, or waitressing at tables.
Then I have people flaunting their network, blabbering a list of they-know-who-and-who, flaunting their salary, their assets… ok, so?
I know I do not need to prove them anything.
I’m happy that you are confident, rich, privileged, comfortable etc.
End of the day, this is my own decision.
I am happy I left the corporate world with all the smiling crocodiles lurking around me,
I am happy to get out of the toxicity,
I am happy to get out of the power struggles and the fake shit.
But it doesn’t mean you can judge me, demean me, or think my grades must be bad, (who cares about grades these days anyway..), that I can’t survive in the corporate world, or that I must be someone with low intelligence.
I just hope people can be kind to each other, treat everyone with respect and stop being so judgmental. Stop demeaning others based on their occupation.
Don’t forget one day, we will all end up on our death bed and eventually the crematorium.
Who will clean up your bedpan or your ashes that fell on the floor? The cleaners!
I just want to live my life without regrets and do what I love. If this doesn’t work out, I am still proud that I made this decision.
PS: I know I look like someone who play a lot, or skipped classes or keep dashing out of school.. which I loved doing. I graduated with a GPA of 4.57, it is not a big deal, but hey, I made it out of university while working full-time at the same time.
Most importantly, I am proud of who I am, and the journey I decided to embark on.
Grades and job titles do not define who you are. It is the attitude that matters.