This is something we see as writers all the time, but I am starting to see it everywhere. Nothing is as easy as it seems, but for some reason many people think everyone around them is better off than they are, and their job is easier. Just the other day, the infamous and often said “anyone can write a book” line was spat at me again.

I’m often asked how I landed the jobs I have now. I simply reply that I worked crappy jobs for 20 years first. As a result, besides the obvious enhancement of my extensive collection of hair nets and name tags, I was exposed to several “career” fields. I didn’t take permanently to any of them, I got an inside view, and this is what I noticed.

Dealing with the public is hard. This observation comes not only from my “writing career” and the annoying questions that often come with it, but from my experience in customer service. We are all customers, and at one time or another can all be “that guy.” You know the one who complains to the cashier about things completely out of her control; takes out his bad day on the waiter, the telemarketer, or the door to door salesman; or the one who is so picky about his car that the speck of mud on the left rear wheel, when the rest of the car sparkles, is enough to negate a tip.

People are mean, nasty, and rude, and for some reason find this behavior acceptable when dealing with service personnel, as if their jobs are somehow easier than what we do, and such activity is beneath us. That is bullshit. Using the examples above, you could:

  • Use the Self Check Out
  • Get your own food. Try a buffet or something, where no one serves you at all.
  • Never try to sell anything again. That person at your door or on the other end of the phone is just trying to make a living. At least be polite.
  • Wash and detail your own damn ride. Then you will find out how hard and time consuming it really is, and how easy it is to “miss a spot” somewhere obscure.

Almost every job involves doing something difficult.

  • Manufacturing? Try not to get bored, and mess up repetitive tasks.
  • Manual Labor? One word, sweat.
  • Working as a Driver? Most people don’t know how to drive, at least not well, and appear to be out to get you, especially if you drive a larger vehicle.
  • Waiter? Try to remember all those orders, and take the flak for the idiot in the kitchen.
  • The Idiot in the Kitchen? Try to get every order right, and meet everyone’s special request, while still keeping up, and listening to the complaints from the wait staff.

You get the idea. So why is it we always point to someone else’s job as “easy”? Why is it we think our job at the DMV is more important and difficult than anyone else’s? This same people say to me “Anyone can write a book, especially with this self-publishing thing. It is so easy.” The reason is simple. We lack empathy.

No one has it any easier than you. Their car breaks down, the water heater fails, and none of it ever happens at a good time. It’s a rare person who sits around with a big bank account, wondering what to do with all the money resting there. That best-selling author still wonders how the next book will do, and if the royalties will keep coming. Writing the next book is harder than you think.

So the next time you start to either idolize or look down on someone, remember nothing is as easy as it seems. That person is no different than you. They struggle too, and unless you want to do their job, have a little respect. They likely work just as hard as you do, just in a different way.