Tag Archives: work ethic

Stealing Time

We don’t spend much time on this Earth. I know that it may seem like an interminable period of misery and pain for some people, a few of whom are singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” right now and hoping God would just put them out of their misery and bring them home now, but in the grand scheme, it doesn’t mean much to God. He’s got eternity on the other side.

Our lives here are a speck and He knows it and we should too. But, the fact is, time does mean a lot to us here on Earth.

For those who don’t believe there is an afterlife, for those who aren’t sure, for those who don’t really know if it’s better, well, they have a lot of concern about how their time on Earth is spent.

Even for those of us with either a pretty firm or rock-solid faith that there is a hereafter and that it’s going to be way better (assuming you pick the winning side of the spiritual war…nudge, nudge), time is still important. We may know that we have something better waiting, but that doesn’t mean we want to spend our days in physical or emotional pain, wasting our time, or anything else. We have families and friends who want our time, we want our personal time, and so on.

Yet in this world, there are plenty of people who not only want to waste our time but who insist on doing so, actually do it pretty effectively—and in many cases claim it is their inalienable right to use our time as they wish.

They are thieves.

They are stealing precious time from us and in many cases, this shit needs to stop.

Now, as you can tell, even though I’ve sprinkled some religious talk in here already, this post is going to be a rant. I’m not going to tell you exactly what sparked this rant. Suffice to say that people who are in the know in my life and who read this blog will probably figure out what set me off. If you want something strictly and completely spiritual, scroll down the main page of this blog to see if you missed anything this week, or just check out the post immediately below this one (Cycle of Trees), which offers a heartfelt spiritual message laden with meaning and wisdom—I hope.

So, back to time-stealing dingleberries in our lives.

Time thieves abound in life. Here are a few examples, some of which may be drawn from my life and one of which might even hint at what set me off today.

  • You are an employer or a supervisor and you believe that because the people under you are paid salaries, you are entitled to their time whenever you feel you need it. You don’t pay them hourly, you aren’t required to give them overtime, and you might not even give them comp time for when you keep them late or have them work weekends. Yet you think you own them. You think you can dictate to them whether or not their family time is important enough that they should be able to partake of it. You cancel vacation days and time off and weekends because your higher-up is saying that there is work that trumps everything else. If you are one of these people, you should be ashamed, and doubly so if you are in the United States. Americans work more hours than most folks in the developed world and use less vacation and sick time. We’re killing ourselves slowly and making a misery of our lives for our companies, and we can’t even get decent health insurance from them anymore. Sickening.
  • You are a person who is single, and who gets snarly when a married co-worker with kids (or an unmarried one with kids, for that matter) comes in a little early to leave a bit early for a soccer game or something. You get mad if your supervisor gives them more opportunities to try to make up time or shift around hours because they have daycare hours to contend with or activities to attend or just want to see their kids and give them some love. If you are getting mad and thinking this person is getting a special deal or a free ride, get over your damn self. When you are married, you will see how much damn work it is to keep a relationship like that healthy. When you have kids, you will find out how hard it is to juggle family and work time. When you are no longer single and/or child-free, you will know how glorious family time is and how important it is, and if you have a shred of decency, you will feel bad for talking shit about your family-minded co-workers once you have a personal taste of what they had to give up to work 90% of the workday and you will find yourself wondering why you have to beg to leave a few minutes early to see your kid’s play or celebrate your spouse’s birthday. Do us all a favor and stop bitching now so you won’t have to feel guilty later. And don’t do what some of your fellow single folks might do and backstab and undermine those married and child-rearing co-workers because you feel like they’re your enemies for wanting family time.
  • You are the custodial parent of a child (or children), and your ex gets little enough time with the kid(s) already, even though he or she really wants to spend time with them. You do your best to steal away weekends and cut short summers. You suddenly announce events without any warning, knowing this will inconvenience both your ex and your children and destroy their plans, all because of things like selfishness, desire to hurt the other person, or whatever. Even if you still can’t see fit to treat your ex with decency, please do yourself and the children a favor and stop being so petty. You have most of the year with the child or children already. Cherish what you have instead of stealing what’s not yours.
  • You are a lazy worker. You come in all sloppy to work and leave your co-workers to pick up your slack. You use trickery, lies, subterfuge and whatever else to make it look like you’re doing more than you are but you aren’t carrying the load that you could be. You don’t have a good reason for it; you just don’t care. It’s not that you don’t want to be worked to death but rather that you want to get your pay and do as little as possible while getting whatever you can for yourself, in terms of long lunches, time off, office supplies, etc. You are stealing your company’s time and probably other resources. You are stealing your co-workers’ time by making them do your work. You are a piece of crap and need to grow up and get some responsibility, or move into your parents’ basement and play video games all day.
  • You are at the only drive-through ATM and doing all your freakin’ banking that you should have done during banking hours, while people pile up behind you and are now running late because you want to check your balance—twice, make a deposit (filling out the forms while at the ATM instead of having done them at home), check the balance of another account, withdraw money (and then count it out as slowly as possible), transfer some funds, and then check your balance again. Bonus points for asshole-ishness if the bank is actually still open and you just decided that you didn’t want to get out of your car, you lazy bastard.
  • You are in the 10-items or less line at the store and have at least twice that number of items, possibly three times the amount or more. You decide to also quibble with the checker about prices and then have the gall to pay by check, writing out that sonuvabitch so slowly that we would all swear you have a neurological problem. But it turns out you’re just a time-wasting jerk who doesn’t want us to get home to our families.

OK, I feel better now having got that out of my system. To the person, organization, or other entity who sparked this rant, I forgive you, but please don’t let this crap happen again. I ain’t Jesus, and I have a lot of other pressures in life right now. And I feel like I am running out of cheeks to turn for folks.

Good little workers

It’s pretty well known that God believes in a good work ethic. For one thing, we know He hand-picked quite a number of people over the milennia to work for Him, and while He expected a lot out of them, He also knew how to bless and protect them when they did what they were supposed to. In the post-crucifixion days, God expects His son’s followers to work to spread the gospel and He rewards them appropriately in the afterlife. You don’t do much but you accepted Jesus at least…well, you have a pleasant eternity ahead of you but no extras. You accept Jesus and you do great work…you get to be part of the inner circle as well as enjoying paradise for eternity.

Also, the New Testament offers us clear advice on how we are supposed to give good, honest work to our employers and not just slack off. I’m sure any number of Christian supervisors and business owners have thought about those passages and wished that more people had a good Christian work ethic.

What I wish though is that they would remember that God also expects a good supervisor/manager/employer ethic.

But they don’t. They’re just as bad (generally speaking) as any supervisor or boss who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Bible or God’s will. The expectation is that you will not only do your job well but you will do whatever you are told, you will put your life to the side, and you will live for the company—particularly if you are paid a salary instead of hourly, because somehow a salary is equated with “We own your ass and will call on you whenever we need you.”

I’ve had good bosses, don’t get me wrong. But even then, they answer to people above them who often charge them with working employees harder. By and large, even the most well-meaning boss can only do so much to make the lives of workers easier and companies pretty much don’t give a damn about whether their employees have lives. Again, there are some exceptions, including some big companies, but still, even at those companies, whatever extras they give employees somehow seem like interesting tricks to get them to work more hours without actual financial rewards for doing so.

I’m not against capitalism. It works pretty well overall. But after getting a little more humane for a while there thanks to labor unions and federal laws to protect people from abuse, it seems to be slipping back into a mentality where the company feels it owns the people and can use them or discard them at will without a moment’s thought or any attention to doing right by people.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible says:

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,  knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. (Ephesians Chapter 6, verses 5-9)

You notice that there are rules there for the people who give the marching orders as well as those who do most of the work. Not only are those in charge supposed to do the same thing workers do, but they are also supposed to forego an aggressive, punishing attitude. More is actually expected of those in charge. Yet in almost every office-based job I’ve ever held, employees get screwed. (By the way, I hope I don’t need to mention to you in modern times that the term slave above should really be interpreted as worker and the word master as supervisor or boss.)

Here’s an example from my own long list of abused worker woes. I once worked at a Big Five financial auditing/consulting firm back when there were still five of them (Arthur Anderson, KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte & Touche). That was probably my most abusive workplace, as the general gist was that you worked when they needed you. Weekends be damned. Vacation plans be damned. Family be damned. If a client had a deadline, we had to be willing to put everything aside to get the proposals written, edited, designed and printed—no matter how much time was wasted beforehand by the partners and managers who didn’t get their part of the work done on time.

Oh, sorry, got sidetracked. The example…OK. A partner told my supervisor that we needed to stay late and finish up a proposal based on edits he was going to give us and we needed to get the document turned around in a hurry. We worked our asses off that day to make sure we were able to fax and e-mail him all the pages at his home, since that was where he was going to be working while we were all stuck in the office. Forget the fact that we all had company laptops and could have been at our homes and done the work—we had to stay in the office.

So, after a couple hours of after-hours waiting, we tried to reach the partner at home (to no avail) to see how everything was going and perhaps get some preliminary pages so we could work while he finished editing and adding things. We didn’t reach him finally until sometime after 8 p.m., when we found out he had been enjoying dinner with his family, time with his kids, and was—get this—tinkering with his cell phone at the time we finally got ahold of him. He hadn’t looked at a single page. By the time he finally looked at things and we made changes, it was after 10 p.m. We had eaten a nice take-out meal from a good sushi joint on the company’s tab, but considering how pissed Mrs. Blue was that I couldn’t come home (and not for the first time since taking that job, either) and the way she was starting to feel like I had thrown her over to marry my job in her place, that food was dust in my belly and bile in my throat.

That was just one example. The shit finally hit the fan one week when I refused to work on Sunday (I was a deacon for my father in law…come on) after we had been told that our weekends and vacations would be on hold for the next few weeks. I got called to the carpet first thing Monday and my supervisor asked if I was quitting, since I didn’t seem to have the proper team spirit. I looked her in the eye and said “No, I’m not” and I also informed her that my family was not going to become second fiddle to my job. By the end of the day, Human Resources had my walking papers in order. I wasn’t saddened, though I was disappointed that I had been sucked into—and discarded by—a company that expected workers to be the serfs to the almighty kings and barons (aka “partners”) and the lords and knights in their service (aka “managers”).

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Respect is supposed to go both ways. I work hard for you and you don’t abuse me; in fact, you should reward my loyalty. Much like in parent-child relationships—yes, you can tell me what to do and yes, you can chastise me at times—you are supposed to see me as a human and treat me with dignity even though you outrank me.

That’s not the landscape that workers face today. If there is anyplace in America (since I can only speak to the climate in the United States) that is less godly than corporate America, I don’t know where it is. A whorehouse in Nevada is more in keeping with godly values than the average corporation as far as I can tell. Where else but most companies can you get annual raises less than the cost of living and see your healthcare coverage go up in price every year while giving you less actual coverage—so that you essentially make less and less each year while being expected to put in more time so that the company’s bottom line can be protected.

Satan likes that. Profit for the evil and petty people and damage to the rank-and-file population by keeping them sick, unhappy, breaking up their marriages, and everything else. So many corporate titans are part of the conservative Christian right and crow about family values and how we need to defend them. If you seriously feel that way, gentlemen (and most of you are men…and overweight arrogant ones at that), start by respecting the family values of your employees and let them have family lives and health coverage.

(If you’re wondering—and you probably aren’t—this post was inspired by a commenter over at this post at Deus Ex Malcontent…an Anonymous person who basically suggested that Generations X and Y were nothing but petulant, self-centered brat workers while the previous generation in the work world is having to hold their hands and wipe their noses. I responded rather nastily to him in that comment section. If you want to see what I said, go there. Even by my potty-mouthed standards, I feel it is too raw to reprint here. The main post itself about the blog author’s visit to the CNN offices, from which he was recently fired for having a blog, is pretty entertaining, too, though long.)