The GGA Project -- Day #137 "A Lot of Thanks for a Thankless Job"

I've written a bit about my job here before, and I think mostly it was to say little things about how it doesn't exactly inspire me.  I'm not sure my job would inspire anybody, as it's tough to see room for that in it.  I'm a bank teller.  My job is to process transactions and--though there are slight variations in the contexts and applications--I basically either receive or distribute money in cash or check form, all day, customer after customer.

I had no reservations about taking the job when I did.  I guess Monkey was so young and I was so thrilled to be a new Mom that I didn't really care what I was doing during the time I was away from him.  I just wanted to get there and get it done and get back home as quickly as possible.

And the job was a great opportunity.  I was looking for something that would provide health care for myself and my dependent, even working part-time hours.  The banking industry seems to be one of few where this coverage is offered without the employee first having to be employed for at least a year.  Also, in working at a bank I was guaranteed to have evenings and Sundays off.  It was a good fit.

And I think I was also fine with the less-than-thrilling, far-out-of-my-area-of-interest job--not that I don't like money, but I never dreamed of cash handling as a career (Ok, that's not exactly true.  When I was young I thought cash handling jobs like cashiering were incredibly glamorous and appealing, but that was when I was 8 or so.)--because I thought of it as a temporary thing to get us through a short-term period of our lives, my family and me.

When it became clear to me that this job was a good idea to hang onto for the time being, not only because it's great to have a job, and a benefited one at that, I started to think more seriously and critically about it.  It was like a dream in which you suddenly become aware of some embarrassing condition you have or are in and are all-at-once frantic about correcting it.  I've pledged on this blog to find a new job ASAP, and I've been very hard on myself in my own mind for still--8 years after graduating from college--not having found a satisfying career in my field of interest and education.

Then today happened.

Today's New Activity: Finding True Appreciation for My Job

On the most basic level, I have always had appreciation for my job.  I see dozens of unemployment checks every week (though significantly fewer, I must say, in my new location.  Though it's just a few miles down the road from the former one, the demographic is dramatically different), and I was grateful to have a paycheck and the medical benefits I've mentioned.

But lately I've gone nearly crazy trying to ward off boredom at the slowish branch where I now work.  I've felt that my brain was melting from such long periods of inactivity (and ok, I'm not saying you don't have to use your brain to be a bank teller.  But while I can say you have to be a lot of things to do the job--you have to be patient, you have to listen and respond well, you have to have an incredible eye for detail (my Achilles heel for a while there), and you have to be able to stand all damned day--you don't really have to do much critical thinking or problem solving.  The rules are very much set and you are to follow them.  That's it).  I have asked myself, 'What am I doing here?!  This is not challenging.  This is not fulfilling!'  I've been ashamed that at my age and with my education, I'm not doing more with my career.

But today a little light was thrown into the dark cavern of my thoughts on the subject.  In the early afternoon, an elderly couple I knew from my former branch dropped in to make a payment.  The couple is super fun because the man always gives the tellers a hard time and they both have cute, playful senses of humor.  I found I was genuinely happy to see them, and made that much more so when they told me they'd come to the branch just to see me.

While I try hard to always be polite and even make connections with customers when I'm not tired of talking for the day, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that these people would go out of their way to say hi.  When they were leaving, the husband said, "See dear, now we've made her day.  Watch, now she's gonna be smiling for the rest of the day just because she saw us."

And he was right.

Pretty shortly after they left, I went to lunch at the nearby Costco (talk about glamorous!), where I recognized the man checking memberships at the door as a customer at my current branch.  He smiled the nicest smile and said, "Hey, it's the friendly teller!"

I am telling you that these two pretty small (in the grand scheme) events really did make my day and give me a whole new outlook on my job.

I've sort of always thought of mine as a thankless job.  But it's not true.  People thank me all day long.  Many people are disproportionately appreciative of the relatively easy work I do to assist them.  It was me who was not appreciating the fact that having somebody do this job with a smile does make a difference for people.  And I do believe that you get back what you put out there.  Every single time I've caught myself thinking customers were in a bad moods on any given day, I've come to realize that it was actually me projecting the rotten vibe--they were just reflecting it.

Today I resolved anew that I would keep gratitude in my heart for my employment, and strive to work such that any customer would be happy--not disappointed or even ambivalent--about seeing me out of the confines of my teller station, and me them.

As cornball as it is to say, I truly am striving to adopt the stance that if I'm going to be a bank teller, I'm going to be the best darned bank teller I can be. (I feel like that sentence deserves a "dangnabbit" in there somewhere.)

I don't know if that attitude will necessarily guarantee the long hours pass more pleasantly, but I believe it will, and it's worth a try.

1 comment:

  1. Years and years ago, I was having a heinously hideous day with my students, and when I complained to a counselor friend, he said, Maybe it's *your* attitude, and it's not the kids. I was ticked at first, but I went back in and made sure I said three positive things minimum before I grouched. I had one of the best years of my life, and whenever things were going wrong, I checked my attitude. It's a remarkable thing that this silly saying---What goes around comes around---is so fundamentally true. I LOVE that you are taking joy to the workplace!