Posts Tagged ‘high’
It’s 6:30 a.m., and I’m hungry. I don’t have to be at the school for another 15 minutes and I want to grab a bite to eat — there’s a donut shop and a Burger King, but I don’t have any cash. I settle for the Burger King.
I order two sausage muffins. The 30-something cashier who takes my Visa card and a middle-aged manager behind her are the only two by the counter, besides myself.
I make small talk. They ask me where I work. I tell them I take school pictures, and I’ll be at the high school across the street today.
The middle-aged manager grabs her coat, preparing to leave. It’s been a long night shift. She observes:
If I could go back to high school, I would do things differently.
She chuckled twice, and knowingly, before leaving.
I get my sausage biscuits, and I leave, too.
Not too long ago, a fellow newbie coworker took her lunch break on-site at a school. After swallowing down a bit too much Diet Pepsi, she chose to belch. I gave it a five-point-five.
Our supervisor, shaking a single pointer finger, said in her stern supervisor voice:
No. That is not professional.
What a broad word, with so many implications. What a ubiquitous word, used to describe the je ne sais quoi that is professionalism. I decided to define it.
Polite subservience could be part of the equation, if you want — belching is not professional — but so often it isn’t, even in the service industry. Rude, haughty egotists are considered professionals so often that both politeness and subservience are the exception rather than the rule. In the civil service, it’s gotten so bad that a well-run Social Security office is something to write home about.
Professionals must first be confident. In sports and music, in businesses both private and public, in the related fields of politics and theater, the professional is the guy who blindsides you with just enough force of personality, just enough facts and figures, just enough flair for the dramatic that you can’t help but be stunned.
You will buy those tickets, you will invest your time and energy, you will believe in his world of make-believe. He catches you with his bag of tricks, the marvel being that he uses each these tricks with surgical precision.
Professionals, under no circumstances, are passionate about their job. Professionals may be interested in their job, or may even like it, but passion is right out; they can’t afford an addiction to the ego-inflating high of success, as it would mean catastrophe in the event of failure. If he falls short of the sales quota, or accidentally rips out the carburetor, or misfiles a TPS report, the professional doesn’t beat himself up. He accepts the incident for what it is, fixes it and moves on. He makes sure that it never happens again, repeating the process ever more carefully if it does.
Putting the two together, we find our definition:
Professionalism is emotionally detached confidence.
Professionals wouldn’t have it any other way. Even the soul-sucking nature of bureaucracy couldn’t change this — those professionals are inevitably they who know exactly what they’re doing, and who will roll with every punch.
If you approach this definition of professionalism, you’re professional. If you are this definition of professionalism, you lie. Maintaining professionalism is pretty tough.
Does being in some minority pressure people out their profession? In an office of whites, would lone Hispanic gentlemen feel out of place? Popular opinion would affirm that he would. Given my work environment, however, I feel as if I should have the similar reaction, even though I don’t.
Nearly every other active photographer in our office is a little different than I, although to say that is a little backwards — I’m the newcomer, here. To be sure, I’m a little different than most of the active photographers in our office.
Simply put, I’m a dude. Most everyone else isn’t.
Though my company is an equal opportunity employer, and ignoring for a moment that the office staff is pretty evenly split, the bulk of our field photogs are female. Of about 25 photographers, there were six guys when I started. Four of us were hired just this year, and one of us had the initiative to get himself fired before training ended.
Although there was nothing improper about his firing — he didn’t think twice about calling in sick whenever he didn’t feel like showing up, and this during training — I liked him well enough, chronic absence and all. Had he showed up, he might have been an ideal employee. Probably not, though.
Among the photographers, now, there are five guys. On one of our so-far rare reprieves, I asked why there were so many more gals driving to schools every day. Basically, she said:
Guys just don’t tend to last that long. Maybe they just say, “I have enough girl problems, already.”
After a pause and a bit of a chuckle, she noted:
Those guys who do stick usually don’t have girl problems.
Even as an adult heterosexual white male, I’m perfectly comfortable with the mostly female staff I see every day — my year or two in a sorority steels my nerves in that regard — and I can’t help but be amused.
In America, adult heterosexual white males are supposed to crowd out everyone else in from the adult heterosexual while male professions in construction, politics, journalism, high finance and the military. After a year in education and the beginning of what may be many years in school photography, I’ve managed to choose two fields where adult heterosexual white males are in the minority.
I’m either open minded or I really want to seem that way.