Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Walk a mile in my shoes

I'm showing my age, but "Walk a kilometre in my shoes" does not have the right ring to it. It also runs the risk of making the exercise pointless as a kilometre is much shorter than a mile, and maybe that is not enough time or distance for you to see and learn what it is I am making my point about.

But I digress. What am I talking about?

I have a close friend who used to be a bank manager. He was good at his job; he had been regularly promoted because of his dedication and excellent customer service. He left the banking industry and became a used-car salesman. "Oh, good", his wife said, "You have stepped up a rung on the social ladder!" Having spent many years as a car salesman we were discussing whether or not he would make a move to the real estate industry. I warned him that it would only be a single step up on the social ladder again.

All jokes aside, I have been pondering over what it is that makes one job more acceptable, or more honoured, in our society than another. I understand that jobs that require long and dedicated study, like medicine, take a place of pride and honour, as I think they should. Perhaps also that is why, when someone who is a doctor or surgeon stumbles in their professional capacity, we are all the more shocked and concerned, fearful even; and when we respond in fear we are all the more likely to over react. I sometimes find myself wondering that if we allow ourselves to over react, do we diminish our capacity to fully understand the motivations and causes that led to a particular outcome or circumstance; and do we weaken our ability to properly manage the rehabilitative process that is required to bring things back into order?

The only reason I can think of for why used car salesmen and real estate agents may be held in less esteem than clerks, teachers and check-out chicks is because we have had a bad experience buying or selling a car, purchasing a house, or even missing out on buying the house we wanted.

I too, had a fairly low opinion of real estate agents before becoming one myself. Now that I understand the constraints imposed by legislation, and now that I have experienced the long hours, the mountains of paperwork, the flurries of phone calls, the dubious intentions of some buyers, the vague instructions of some sellers, the general attitude by both those parties that the real estate agent is at their beck and call at all hours of the day and night, I now have a much higher opinion of my trade.

Don't get me wrong, some real estate agents are rogues; but so are some doctors, lawyers, teachers, bank managers and check-out chicks. Roguery is not confined to just the lower orders of social employment. Rascals and rapscallions have existed in every endeavour mankind has ever put his hand to. Being a scoundrel speaks to a person's upbringing, education and moral sensibilities, not their chosen employment. 

So next time you're at a social gathering and you are introduced to a car salesman, a bank manager or a real estate agent, observe their behaviour and listen to their words before you cast judgement on the social acceptance of their profession.

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