My library is big enough that the particular contributions of us individual laborers can easily be lost in the shuffle. This can be disappointing when one wants to be acknowledged for one's mastery and industry, but, and I know this sounds a bit wise, but, after all these years I've mostly come to feel that all that doing a good job stuff is its own reward, that doing my job well is primarily a private satisfaction. Perhaps this is merely a response to the ignominious reality of Clerkdom, as is my complicated array of takebacks and rewards for my good work, which, since I'm left in charge of them, are manifold and given at every possible opportunity. But what this comes down to is that I am thus well situated to enjoy the benefits and pleasures of all this lost-in-the-shuffle work.
Aside from the self managing autonomy spoken of above, the principle
advantage of this collectivism is in the possibility of enjoying all the
work of my co-workers. This is not necessarily an easy task. I have had no great struggle enjoying the colorful and erratic skills of my good co-workers, and they can be nice to talk to as well, but after years of
much teeth gnashing about my more challenged co-workers, I must admit that it is a more ongoing struggle to suss out their beneficial nature. Fortunately I encountered another learning opportunity today. I had been doing a good deal of other things
during my shelving hour, some of them even job related, when I decided
to pitch in and try and get a full cart of genre fiction shelved in the
20 minutes I had before I needed to report to the front desk. There, up
in the fiction stack, was a co-worker. She had the same assignment as me
but had gone upstairs with a cart long before I showed up on the scene.
She was plodding along without much success, and though she'd been
working on it for at least 15 minutes, she had only gotten about a quarter
of the cart done. I passed by, noticing, and proceeded to apply myself,
shelving my whole cart, straightening up as I went, and then racing down to the
front desk as per arrangement. Passing by, on my way, I noted the same co-worker with the
same cart. She was slowly working her way to the three quarter done mark.
She hadn't made it yet.
I could be mad at her failure to sufficiently contribute her fair share.
I could be bitter that I thanklessly shoulder a heavier load. I could
cringe at the extra pressure of unshelved books that will lie around the
library due to her lackluster performance. But I don't have to do any
I can enjoy her measured pace, which sets the par for shelving comfortably
low. I can take her lesson that everyone doing their tiny bit adds up to
enough, and, most of all, I can let her shining example indicate that,
later in the afternoon, when I have another hour of shelving scheduled, I
can start it out with a 45 minute coffee break.