I’ve had a few rather humbling experiences in the last couple of months.

I tend to believe my work is a beautiful thing. Magical people, great friends, fun times. Usually, there’s no reason to worry or be upset at the work I’m asked to do.

However, there were two times in the last six months where I thought to myself: “You know what? This is fucking retarded. I deserve better.”

Episode 1

The first was in January when I was asked to burn DVDs and then label them, for about two days straight.

I accepted of course, but didn’t really enjoy the idea. I mean, c’mon, I went to university for six years, I have a Master’s degree, and they were going to pay me to burn DVDs? Did everyone take a crazy pill when I wasn’t paying attention?

But I went to work, and burned DVDs. As I was copying them, and labeling them, something interesting happened. Chalk it up to my Buddhism, or my meditation, or my usual easy going temperament, but I actually began to enjoy it.

I developed a certain rhythm of doing things. I put my headphones on with some lovely tunes, and slowly moved into this zone where I was completely serene. It was an odd, calm, relaxing bliss, where I was appreciative of the fact that I had some downtime, and could chill out and burn DVDs for a while. In a strange way, I began to enjoy burning DVDs, menial task though it may be.

Of course, the more I worked at Muse, the more I realized that everyone was asked to burn DVDs, so I didn’t feel singled out anymore. In fact, I felt mildly ashamed of my outburst. If the Director of Post-Production regularly walked into our office and burned DVDs, how could I do any less?

Tsk tsk tsk. Ego talking.

Episode 2

The second time my ego caused me some discomfort was in the writer’s room. I had been working with the writers of our new show for about three weeks. My job consisted of some research, lots of listening, finding the location for the room, and getting the writers’ lunch and coffee. So when I ran into an old friend in the street, and he told me he was working as a marketing manager for a big company, I began to feel quite ashamed of myself.

Here he was, this bigshot employee, making a cool 80k a year, and here I was, slightly above the job of gopher, making nothing. How could I compete with that? It was a totally shitty feeling to realize that my peers were way more successful than I was.

So I spoke to my mother about it, and vented a little. You know what she said?

“You’re not a professional writer yet, my love. Think of this as an apprenticeship, with your coffee running and lunch buying as the price you have to pay. Do you think the writers you’re working for can function without you? Of course not! They need you to take care of all the external things, so that they can focus on the writing. And someday, when you become the head writer of a TV show, you will appreciate the assistant, and treat him just like the writers are treating you right now: with respect, because you know how important he is. You will also do this because once upon a time you were the assistant too, just like once upon a time the writers you work for were assistants as well.”

I took a moment to digest this, and really let it sink in. My ego slowly collapsed in on itself as my self-worth rose up again.

“And remember,” my mom added, “to always do the work with love and appreciation. In that way, you will succeed.”

Man, my mom is good. She always manages to pinpoint exactly what I need to hear.

I hung up, and resolved to do my work with love henceforth.

Courtesy of Andy Erikson. Click to check out her blog.

Thus yesterday, when I was asked to take a box of keys, and go through them on each door of our production office, I did. I tweeted about it being retard work, but you know what? It was satisfying.

Each time I found the right key for a door, I smiled a secret smile of self satisfaction, and thought “with love“.

3 comments add your comment

  1. Everyone took a crazy pill a long time ago… I find the gentle hum of the DVD duplicators have a calming effect akin to the vacuum cleaner-like drone of a mother’s womb. I think copying DVDs is about the only down-time I get now that you have left us for a bunch of writers. Unfortunately I don’t get to enjoy the catharsis of sticking labels on dead-centre, as it is now policy to print the graphics on our DVDs for a more professional look, so I pretty much send the job to the printer – work – get discs from printer and put them in the tower – work – take discs out. All in all, there is much less for me to do, which somehow works out to me being busier.

    Anyhoo, I’m rambling. In short, we miss you man!

  2. Your first episode feels so familiar to me: meeting people who seem to be more “successful” can be quite humbling at times. One thing that I try to keep in mind is that each of us has our unique paths and as long as you know where you are going and as long as you are enjoying the walk, there is no need to look at others. This type of “comparison” is quite strongly embedded in my culture (or in any other culture, for that matter…. I mean we are expected to reach some milestones by certain age ….) and at times it’s hard to see beyond it.

    BTW love what your mom said!!! I will try to do my work with a bit more love today 😉

    • Hello my lovely Anya!

      It really is humbling. In my case, I was especially humbled by the fact that the producer of our latest TV show, ie the person with the most power, was putting toilet paper and soap in the bathrooms.

      In other words, although she could’ve gotten someone else to do it, she did it herself because she could. It wasn’t beneath her. I learned a lot from that one experience, especially about how there’s nothing wrong with doing any job, as long as you do it well.

      Like my mom always says, if there were no garbagemen, our cities would fall apart. Although it’s not a glorious job, it is a necessity, and one that all of our cities are based upon.

      And I love my mom’s quote too! She is always brilliant and inspirational to me.

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