I've heard people say, "Well, if they paid me more, maybe I'd work harder." I never believed them. Work is an ethic. If you won't work for minimum wage, you won't work for $10, $20, or $30 an hour. If you resent working, you won't work hard for any amount. Some of the hardest workers I've ever seen were working for minimum wage. These are the people who get promoted when positions open.
"What makes you an expert?" you may ask. I started at The Sentinel as pressroom manager when I was still 23 years old. A few years later, I was named production manager. I was 49 years old before I had a sick day. For 25 and a half years, I never had an unscheduled day off.
Yes, some of that is good luck and good health. I remember times, though, when I went to the big stainless steel sink in the pressroom and threw up. I'd hose out the sink and go back to work. I did this more than once.
Then, there was the time I caught my finger between a pulley and a belt. I left work and went to the emergency room. The doctor operated on my finger and sewed tendons back together. I was at work with a splint on my finger the next day.
The Sentinel had a basketball team that played at the Y.M.C.A. I severely sprained my left ankle. In the morning, I was at work on a pair of crutches. More recently I was unloading 700-pound rolls of newsprint. I told the people working with me that my left wrist was broken. It was. I went to the emergency room for the X-ray and diagnosis. The next day, I saw the doctor again - he casted my wrist and I went back to work.
After I turned 49, I had numerous hospitalizations and missed work. I had stents placed in my heart and used vacation time for the day or two I was off. When I had my bypass, I was off three weeks. I opted to take two of those weeks as vacation time. Most recently I was surprised when my doctor insisted I take six weeks off to heal. I dreaded telling my boss. The publisher never batted an eye. She had to bring in extra help to replace me. So why was she so calm? Because she knew that if it was possible, I'd be there. Good work habits raise you above suspicion.
The thing I'm most proud of, though, is that I've never had a "skip" day. Not once, not ever. I never woke up and decided to go fishing or hunting. I never decided the day was just too nice to spend at work. Work made the day better.
Young person, you can't go wrong following my example.
Jay McCaulley is the production manager for The Sentinel. He can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.