Sometimes it’s a good idea to do things we don’t want to do.
For example, I worked behind a bar for a while when I first came to Botswana.
That was back in 1983 when my wife-to-be and I were backpacking around southern Africa.
Basically, I was the odd job man at Croc Camp in Maun so I did whatever needed to be done in exchange for three meals a day, a bit of cash and a trip into the delta.
I didn’t exactly hate the bar work but the maintenance stuff was what I really liked so I’m very happy to say serving drinks only made up a small portion of my work.
I doubt I would have stuck it if I’d had to be behind the bar everyday.
I say that because while I was bartending I sort of disappeared, as in the customers forgot I was there, or at least forgot that I was a relatively intelligent human being who could hear and understand what they were saying.
That could be quite interesting because it allowed me to hear opinions I’m sure people would not have let me in on if they’d noticed I was there; but a lot of the time that situation could also be quite depressing.
I mean it’s not like I had to stand in crocodile infested waters and serve drinks to rich tourists like the guy in the picture at the top of this page, but it’s not nice being ignored.
I also sometimes had to listen to the mostly white South African, Zimbabwean, Australian and European customers lumping me and my American countrymen into one not too flattering category.
I can just imagine how African and female bartenders must feel when similar but more severe opinions are expressed while they are on the job.
And that’s what I really want to talk about today; not prejudiced piss-artists, but imagining how other people feel and putting ourselves in their place so we can become kinder more considerate people.
I’m writing about this now because my daughter had a similar experience the other day when she tried to get shoppers in England to sign a petition that called for increased funding for foster care.
The most common reaction was… nothing. Not even an acknowledgment that she was there, and this was while she was volunteering her time to help find families for parentless kids.
Anyway, one of the main reasons I think we should try to open our eyes and be more aware is because when I was tending bar I noticed something that I’ve continued to see in people ever since.
The customers who were least aware of my presence seemed to do the most complaining and they came across as rather selfish, unhappy people.
The ones that were aware there was a human being on the other side of the bar, on the other hand, seemed to be quite happy.
Maybe that’s because there are always things for us to be thankful for if we can just step back from our problems long enough to see the big picture.
I could be wrong, but I do think it’s worth thinking about – even if we don’t really want to.