by Wang Jin
It’s my first time to be abroad. Everything is so exotic to me. However, nothing impressed me more than the comparison of people’s attitude to ordinary occupation between China and Europe. Take waiter for example. In China waiter is regarded as grass-root. They work in terrible conditions, always more than ten hours a day, but their wage is very low, difficultly to support personal life and family. Most of them look unhappy, depressed and frustrated, not enthusiastic about what they do. When clients go into restaurant, they start to work like robots, all their movements run in the same groove as they were designed in advance. That doesn’t influence the mood of clients because they have been accustomed to this kind of service attitude unless the waiter swears words or behaves rudely. In contrary, at least from my personal traveling experience, European waiter sincerely enjoy the job, getting satisfaction from their work. They received clients with clean uniform, amiable smile, graceful manner. And what’s important, most Chinese waiters are the youth under thirty-five years old while their European counterparts consist of the young and the elderly, the latter generally be manager or director due to their rich experience. This phenomenon
indicates that the job means little more than mile ticker for Chinese waiters while it meas a lot even a life-time career for European waiters.
So what makes the difference?
In my opinion, the most important reason is the differentiated degree of social development. In broad terms, Europe is the developed area, accumulating surprising wealth for several
centuries. Lavish welfare systems ease some of life strain for European. Compared with material wealth and reputation, European attach greater importance to spiritual values and inner happiness. Although China make unprecedented progress in economy after the implementation of the reform and opening policy in 1978, money is still the top priority of Chinese people.
What’s worse, China is facing the harsh reality: the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.
As discussed above, Chinese waiter is always young people. And they are such type of young people: born in rural or remote area, poorly educated, be forced to support family in young age because of bad financial situation. It’s hard for them to find decent job, accordingly to climb higher social ladder. Researchers point out channels of social mobility become fewer and fewer for the whole young generation. When their faith in future is dim, they hardly felt happy and be gentle to others.
Apart from macro-level factor, various evaluation standards for person’s value applied by Chinese and European can account for the difference largely.
In China, people tend to profanely equate people with the occupation he/she work for. Just as the French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said in little prince, “If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their way. When you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “what does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him” Although there is an old saying： Career has no gentle and simple, Chinese tend to show more respect to the traditional so-called decent occupation such as doctor, lawyer, teacher, look down on the simple occupation such as cleaner, waiter, seller. However, in Europe there is much democratic insistence on the worthiness of every level of birth and work.It’s the social division of
labor that make society function smoothly. Every kind of occupation is indispensable for social operation.
We work hard in pursuit for a happy life. If one day work has been obstacle for happy life, maybe something go in wrong direction. It’s the time to reflect.