The Joy of Working

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Simone the Barista in Florence was amazing. He was fast, thorough, friendly, happy, and even recalled us from our visit from over a year earlier. Photo/Jonathan Crane
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I just returned from three weeks in Europe.  It’s always a pleasure and enlightening beyond words for sure, and on this trip, I observed something that I’ve always felt but have had trouble putting into words. 

The bartender at Dante not only offered us several samples of local beers, but he also poured a taste of a traditional Dutch Liqueur (Bols Jonge) so we could try the local favorite. Photo/Jonathan Crane

I noticed how many amazing workers we came across and how special they made our experience.

There was joy and passion in so many working people we came across, and since we’d been to many of the places we’d visited previously, it was also interesting to note how many of the same people were working the same jobs years later.  

To be clear, these are not high-paying, “professional” jobs, but you’d never know it by the attitude displayed by these workers. The Barista in Florence (see photo) was amazing. He was fast, thorough, friendly, happy, and even recalled us from our visit from over a year earlier. This man works six days a week, wears a tie and a nice shirt under his apron, and seems to be bursting with pride in his work. In his world, he absolutely is a professional, and I couldn’t agree more.  

A week later, at a restaurant/bar in Amsterdam named Dante, the bartender not only offered us several samples of local beers, but he also poured a taste of a traditional Dutch Liqueur (Bols Jonge) so we could try the local favorite. And when glancing at the menu, he insisted we tried a very popular Dutch appetizer (Bitterballen), and I’m so glad we did. Otherwise, we would never have tried them, so his influence made our experience so much better and far more memorable.  

I have no idea why these workers’ attitudes were so good, they just were. To them, it appeared to be far more than a job and a paycheck, but a profession that they could sink their teeth into – not just buying time until something better came along.  

We found inspired workers on all fronts – hotels, tour guides, public transportation, restaurants, and so many others. It never felt like the people working were doing so begrudgingly but enjoying themselves helping others. I found it utterly refreshing.

In the Staffing business, we find jobs for people and do our best to match them up with companies that seem like a decent fit. Most of the candidates that come through our offices are on the young end of the scale and seem far more interested in wages, hours, and the difficulty of the tasks expected of them. It is less common to see someone seeking a career. While this is completely understandable, I do wonder what our society might gain from finding more joy in their work instead of seeing it simply as a means to an end.  

Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, the workers there tend to stick to their jobs/professions longer than I’ve noticed here. The Barista I pointed out has been at the same job for over 10 years. He loves it and finds happiness there. I see less stress over the status of jobs, just more joy in working them. I think there’s a lesson in that, and you don’t have to travel to Europe to find it.