I sometimes get the idea that people whose day job involves heavy physical labour see themselves as more hard working than those whose job roles are either more computer based, creative, or involve public relations (mine involving all three). In my relationship I feel like it’s often hinted at that I am the one who doesn’t know what real hard work is. The truth is, having had a taste of both worlds, I’d say each side has it’s equal pros and cons.
I have been to work with my boyfriend a number of nights now to help pull lobsters and oysters out of tanks and pack them up in boxes to go to restaurants the next morning. It’s a cold, wet and smelly working environment and the lobsters have these nasty, spiky little faces that cut your hands from time to time which bloody hurts, especially when it gets under a fingernail.
I also had a go at jet washing the freshly dredged oysters and the water reflected back up, landing me a face covered in mud. The job involves lugging heavy boxes about and all in all is not the most glamorous line of work to be in. However, being used to jobs where I have to be constantly verbal and interactive whilst dealing with the public or other colleagues, I find something extremely calming about toiling away in a noisy tank room with only the dregs of the sea for company. And a bit of mud on the face kind of takes you back to nature and all that.
I need to use my brain a bit to count up the lobsters I’m packing, but it’s regular and doesn’t need me to make decisions or make any explanations. Don’t get me wrong, I love my day job (and I’m sure I’m better at it than I am shifting all these crates about and whining like a baby about having to put my hand in ice cold water to catch a straying lobster), but I think some people really underestimate the intensity of having to communicate with people all day, dismissing it as not real hard work.
When I think back to some of the unusual folk I’ve been confronted with in various front of house employment (mainly in bar work), I realise there’s nothing quite as tricky as trying to quickly diffuse an unwanted conversation with a nutter whilst remaining calm, friendly, polite and helpful. You never quite know what might happen when the public are involved, but you pretty much always know where you stand with a lobster.
Some days, if I’ve been resigned to my desk for most of the time, I come home feeling tired yet still fidgety – my head has been doing all the work and my eyes are strained from looking at a screen all day, but I haven’t really had any exercise.
Manual workers may boast of the physical demands their bodies endure, but to me, when I reach that level of pain from physical exertion I feel a sense of satisfaction that can only be replicated after a torturous session at the gym – where it’s much too easy to give up as there’s no tangible task at hand. And, once you finish the task at hand you’re done thinking about it and you go home, full of endorphins (and a fair few cuts and bruises – which is partly why I definitely will stick to the day job).
Here is a picture of a lobster…