I put a long day in today. A really long day. Like 14 hour type of long day. This type of day is very atypical for me. Now, because of where I work, some folks will condemn this as a bad work culture. I don't think it is but I could be totally blind and bias. Who knows. Either way, I accomplished a lot of stuff today. Nothing groundbreaking or even rudimentary cool for that matter. None of that. In fact, if I told you what I actually accomplished today you might look at me in bewilderment. "How did it take you that long to 'just' do that?" Well, I wonder that myself sometimes but today I finished a few things and I really liked the quality I put into it. It made me think of my dad.
My Dad was a workaholic. Not in the "I'm a big CTO / entrepreneur mansplaining fool" type of workaholic. He was a workaholic out of necessity and an incredibly strong, maybe even irrational sense of providing for his family in hope of giving them something he never had. He was blue-collar all the way and never took a job for granted, always was grateful for whatever work he could get. He took his work seriously and gave his 100% always. I remember attending his retirement party. It was 1991. I was about to graduate from high school and I was young, dumb and stupid. He got an award from Chrysler (where he retired from) for perfect attendance.
That means he never called off 1 day. Not 1 day. He was never late 1 day. NEVER LATE. NOT. ONE. DAY.
FOR 25 YEARS
That means he lived and worked through Ohio's blizzard of 1978 WITHOUT BEING LATE 1 DAY FOR WORK.
Think about that for a minute.
To give you some perspective on where I was at that time, I think I missed close to 1 quarter of school both my sophomore and junior year of high school. I was manager of a record store during my senior year but I was probably late 97% of the time. My friend Lynn was my assistant manager. She HATED when I opened on the weekend. That usually meant I would forget my keys or lock myself out of the store 50% of the time on the weekend because opening the store meant waking up "early." (9 am) She was the one that bailed me out all the time.
I remember seeing him get that award and having feelings of self deprecation mixed with "that man's crazy" thoughts. Either way it had an impact. It never changed anything mind you. I'm still late for, well, everything a good portion of the time. I rationalize it away as I'm "carefree" instead of driven by a stupid clock but whatever. That ship has sailed for me.
But that is how much my Dad appreciated work. The opportunity to have a job. Why? Because he knew what the alternative was. That is not a fun experience. I've experienced that, mind you in much less dyer situation than my dad. In fact, when I was in that boat, my Dad helped me get back on my feet. My whole family did. My friends did too. I love my friends. That's just what you do. Sometimes I wonder if I ever showed them all enough appreciation.
Anywho, back to my Dad.
Not only did he have PERFECT ATTENDANCE, he had pride in his work. He wanted to do a good job, whatever the job was. There was a time when my dad was laid-off from Chrysler so he was working three other odd jobs to earn enough. One of the jobs he had was with Kellermeyer. Kellermeyer was a contract cleaning company that would clean office buildings, department stores when those businesses were closed. He would work one or two jobs during the day and then work nights and weekends cleaning offices and department stores after they were closed to the public. (You might even say he was a DREAMER, but let's not go there today) He wasn't stupid either. He would take us kids to help him clean sometimes. I think I only had to help a handful of times and I probably "helped" in the same sense my 5 year old daughter Maya "helps" cook. Actually I was probably worse. I'm sure my siblings have some stories about that time.
But to bring us full circle, what I thought about today was this one time we were at the Franklin Park Mall in Toledo, Ohio. We were walking into the Lion Store. (became Dillards or some other department store) We walked in and my Dad about lost his shit. "Ahk! Look at this mess! This looks AWFUL. Ahk! SO ugly!" He was looking at the white linoleum floor. It was dirty according to him. Whoever was on the night shift at Kellermeyer did a bad job according to my Dad. It didn't meet his quality bar.
He took pride in his work.
I remember one time, him bragging. Pointing out how spectacular the floors looked. (he had obviously cleaned them the night before) He was smiling ear to ear, taking pride in what he did the night before and happy to share that with us.
I was at work for 14 hours today and around 10 PM I ran into the cleaning staff. Some man of Asian decent. I felt bad for being there still. He came back three times to see if I had left so he could clean my area. He wanted to do a good job and I was detering him.
But what made me think of my Dad and his Kellermeyer days was pride. Long hours and pride. I'm working on something right now were the subject area is as dull as hell. It. Is. So. Boring. But that doesn't matter. I'm happy I have the opportunity to work where I'm working and work in this area. It could be worse, way worse. I hope I never take any of this for granted. And tonight I took pride in my work. I put in the hours and delivered something I felt good about. I think my business is better for it. That is what made me think of my Dad. Dad, if you're listening, thank you. I'm here because of you and the rest of our family. (and friends!)
I'm going to finish my wine and go to bed now. I'll be at work in less than 6 hours from now to do it all over again. Hopefully I'm still proud of my work when I look at it with somewhat fresher eyes. They'll be lucky if they get 6 hours out of me tomorrow though. Sorry Dad, you didn't pass that whole crazy "PERECT" attendance thing on down. I still think that ludicrous. :)