Every job has its crappy tasks.
I had one. Literally. I worked as a mountaineering guide once. In basecamp I drew the job of maintaining the BIFF (bathroom in forest floor). When this communal outhouse filled up I had to increase its capacity – with a shovel.
A friend of mine was hired by Google to manually review explicit and offensive ads all day long. Google made her sign a disclaimer indemnifying them against trauma.
The Comcast employee tasked with reversing my decision to close my account has a crappy job. We got into a 45-minute argument. Then I hung up on him. He billed me the following month.
While undesirable, these tasks are necessary. So we, as employees and customers, simply grin and bear it whenever we draw the short straw. Little do we realize, crappy jobs offer golden opportunities.
Morgan took a new job as Head of Housekeeping at a vacation resort. That put him in charge of linen duty. Nobody liked linen duty. Guests were annoyed that they had to take time out of their vacations to haul their dirty laundry to the laundry room and then haul fresh linens back to their cabins. The resort staff didn’t like it either. After all, they would rather teach water skiing or lead beach activities than fold linens.
Since he had to do the job anyways, Morgan decided to make the experience magical. When linen day came around he dressed up in a tuxedo. He laid out lawn chairs with hot washcloths and cut up cucumber slices for the guests. He set up a bar with signature cocktails and lounge music. The Linen Bar was born.
Guests no longer endured linen day. They relished it. They pampered themselves at the makeshift spa while Morgan swapped dirty linens for clean ones. Other staffers at the resort begged Morgan to join him on the linen shift.
Morgan then coined the phrase:
The experience was so memorable that Morgan decided every day should be linen day. He set up a presence on Instagram (@linenbar) and Twitter (@linenbar) where he publishes inspirational sayings and stunning photos of, you guessed it, linens. A guest told me she looks at Linen Bar pictures whenever she’s stressed at work.
Morgan stumbled upon a brilliant insight – undesirable tasks often yield golden opportunities.
Of course, we’ve seen this happen before.
Virgin America reimagined its inflight safety announcement (a federally mandated and undesirable job) and produced a fun, toe-tapping film which has over 11 million YouTube views (watch video).
A few fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle turned hauling smelly fish into a standing room only tourist attraction.
Uberconference swapped out the horrible elevator music you used to hear on conference calls and replaced it with an original and cheeky tune.
Many undesirable tasks come with expectations so low we could step over them. But we don’t. Because it’s easier to complain than it is to care.
Let’s be more like Morgan.