Saturday, June 27, 2009


My freshman year of high school, I worked in the concession stand during lunch break. It kept my often task-oriented nature thriving and also kept me away from the horrifying things that were being served up on plates in the cafeteria. At the close of the school year I received a notice that I should attend the year-end awards ceremony for students because I had been selected to receive an award. My grades were decent, but not excellent. I played varsity tennis and soccer, but was not a stand out. I loved art class, but had not won any awards in the contests that year. I really had no idea why I was asked to attend the awards ceremony, but figured that the only way to find out was to show up and see what this was all about.

Well, after sitting through an entire awards ceremony where kids were honored for things such as maintaining a 4.0 GPA for their entire school career (grades K-12), never missing a single day of class (grades K-12), setting all time athletic records for the school and state, winning scholarships for notable colleges, etc., etc. the faculty member who headed up the concession stand stepped up to the platform. The microphone buzzed with feedback for a few seconds as if to say this was a hiccup in the ceremony or an add-on-award moment that would prolong your after dinner plans. She timidly announced my name to come up to the stage and receive an award for . . . "excellence in concessioneering!" I shuddered in disbelief and the room was suddenly cold without any noise except for a few muffled chuckles as I walked toward the stage to receive an award that even the name had been fabricated in a way that screamed "not really impressive". My attire of khaki pants and a white oxford shirt with a flowered neck tie suddenly made me feel like a McDonald's employee getting his name put on the employee of month plaque - not really a life time achievement award, but thanks.

Now I'm not knocking people who work in the fast food industry or throwing any cheap shots at anyone who does not fit into the context of white-collar-cooperate-America. It is respectable to make an honest living, lead a quiet life, and work with your hands to win the respect of outsiders. Maybe that is where it should end though? Do we really need recognition for simply serving and doing a job that brings some personal satisfaction anyway? It just seems a little overkill to recognize someone with a trumpet processional when that person is just doing the work required of them in the first place. Maybe that person is content to enjoy their work without all of the unnecessary fanfare? Maybe just a “thanks, job well done” would suffice?