This is, ironically, according to the media itself aka TV shows and films – and then perpetuated by public conscience. (Or is it the other way round?)
The public sector is equally badly viewed. Employees are overpaid and lazy, arrogant buffoons, taking back handers left right and centre sat atop their publicly funded gold-plated pedestals.
I’ve had the extremely good fortune to work for many years in the former, and the latter in the past three. And none of those aforementioned ‘skills’ have ever graced my CV – and wouldn’t have got me my jobs had they.
Occupational myths are terribly unfair. No job or career is left untouched by this discourtesy. There is a whooping big space between the reality of the job and how it is seen or portrayed. There’s the legal system, plumbing and the medical profession. While the police, soldiers and photographers also have fair gripes.
Before I became a journalist I also had preconceived ideas about the job, shaped in part of course by popular myth. Luckily I was already prepared for the awful pay and long hours, but like most in the profession was driven by the desire to let people know what was going on in the world, and respected the power of ambiguous language to ensure the truth be told backed up with fact.
What reputation doesn’t tell you about journalists is that they are a softhearted bunch, terrible at maths (thus preferring the medium of words), and most don’t drink or smoke to excess because they simply can’t afford it. They are also absolutely mortified if they get something wrong.
In the public sector I’ve learnt they equally work their socks off, because like in the media, they’re terribly understaffed doing double the amount of work expected of them a decade ago. (Mind you, this can also applies to most professions these days). They swallow the pain at being an easy target from residents, and really do just want to help. Most haven’t had pay rises in years, and thanks to hot-desking in shrinking office space they’re lucky if they get a seat let alone a pedestal to sit on.
I do get occupational myths. Thanks to reputation I get the, ‘don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story’ nonsense. It makes for a stronger fictional narrative on telly or in films. And there are of course, always the tiny idiot minority in any profession that act like the cliché – ruining it for the rest of us.
So before you label those engineers on the road-works causing the jam you’re sat in as “work shy’, or that harassed shop assistant who accidentally gave you the wrong change as “stupid’, step back, take a minute and take stock.
None of us are defined by our jobs, and certainly not by their reputations. Let’s give each other and ourselves a break. Work to live, remember? Not, live to work.