Super Cities №241—Outside Perceptions, Inside Realities

Brendan Hart

From the outside, other people's jobs look easy. Most people think they have immediately transferable skills. Surely making that silly iPhone app, walking the police beat, or running the local pizza shop would be easy breezy.

In reality, most of us could not do any of those things particularly well. Missed by the layperson, each job has critical nuances and intricacies that take time to learn.

That silly iPhone app is one of 2,200,000 living in the App Store. It requires a critical sensitivity that balances users' collective, messy desire for efficiency and child-like need for simplicity. It is a patchwork of code and psychology.

Walking the beat requires coming to grips with a day-to-day uncertainty that most people cannot fully grasp. Imagine waking up each day, putting on your vest and holstering your sidearm, and having close to no idea what potentially life-threatening scenario awaits you. Morning after morning, night after night.

Running a pizza shop doesn't require a fancy degree. But it does mean combining dough, cheese, and sauce better than every other small business that can make the exact same product with possibly superior ingredients. If you pass that threshold, you must manage a never-ending string of deliveries, part-time workers, payroll taxes, and landlord complaints. All while meeting the market's relentless need for better quality at lower prices. Good luck, Master of the Universe.

It has taken me years to become good at a few things. Just don't ask me to operate a train, cook a dish, or fix an HVAC. Respect to those who do.

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