My 13-year-old daughter feels sorry for me, because it seems to her that I do the same thing every day. A bus driver once told me he felt sorry for all writers because he looks at the newspaper and he can't believe we have to write "all those fuckin' words!"
My ad-man father used to feel sorry for family doctors. He couldn't imagine having to see patients, one after the other, with their common complaints. It must have been so boring, he thought. (He actually pitied anyone who wasn't in advertising, which he thought was the most exciting job in the world, despite all the endlessly boring meetings and dull people he complained about while my mother tried and failed to gulp enough scotch to care.)
We all feel sorry for teachers—so much that we call them "heroes," for doing all day what we can't imagine doing for any day.
I can't imagine how most people who I run into during the course of the day get through the day all day every day: bank tellers, cooks at mediocre restaurants, the guys in the Jiffy Lube pits (or at the counter, for that matter). Hell, even the people who re-string my tennis racket. Day after day in that quiet shop, how can the people at Strings Attached continue to be as cheerful as their name?
Studs Terkel once set out to find out how people do get through the workday, not just with their dignity intact, but often with their dignity redefined. The result was Working, a book that I revere, the way I revere all of us, for sticking with a single thing every day even though we are inevitably larger than the thing, even when we wish for another thing, even when we don't fucking feel like it.