I wrote this a little over a year ago and I still think about the person in the toll booth today. Thinking about him makes me realize how fortunate I am to be studying medicine despite all late night studying and intravenous Red Bull injections.

The People Beneath Us – My Views on the Working Class

I have so much respect for people who work at dead-end, low paying, and socially demeaning jobs day in and day out. It just makes you realize how lucky you are sometimes. A couple of years a go I remember seeing this older gentlemen working the toll booth at the medical center where my doctors are located. It must have been over 100 degrees outside and I was lucky enough that my air conditioning was working that day. You’d be surprised as to how moody a car gets as it ages. Anyway, I have so much respect for this man because despite it being over 100 degrees outside, probably way hotter when you’re cramped in a tight space with little ventilation; he was still quite cheerful and polite. I would’ve been a cranky asshole if I was put in that situation.

I couldn’t help but think that maybe he has no choice but to work in a job like this due to his lack of education and his broken English. I mean he probably has a family of 5 to support and every penny he made probably went to putting a roof over their heads and food on the table. You can also tell that he doesn’t spend money on himself, but he didn’t seem to care at all. Some people are just happy to be working. I mean obviously he could’ve been a real smelly douche bag. However, I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good judge of character; I had an overwhelming feeling of empathy towards him.

I also had the same feeling when I saw this older lady with graying hair sweeping around the computer lab at my University. She definitely didn’t have a large English vocabulary, but like the old man she just seemed happy to be working. It almost seemed like she was floating around singing some sweet song in her head while enjoying every moment working. I think she got a little scared when I was looking at her smiling – maybe it’s because of my jacked up teeth that made the moment just a little bit creepy. Oh well.

Maybe one of the reasons why I chose medicine was because I like people; I like listening to people and I especially like hearing about people’s lives, where they came from, and how they got here. It’s fascinating because we’re all so different yet so much a like in our everyday struggle for existence; some might have to jump through more hoops than others. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have gotten this far in my life. Obviously I’m nowhere near being done and hopefully I’ll never take my opportunities for granted because so many people would kill to be in my situation.