01-12-2013   2 comments

While shopping in a local supermarket a week ago I was standing in line at the check out and listened to two store employees discussing the company and the general lack of a  ‘work ethic’ by the younger associates.  I was a bit taken aback hearing it loudly discussed where it could be heard by many nearby customers.  ‘Work ethic’ is obviously not the companies only issues along with a lack of company pride, morale, and loyalty.

I understand that loyalty to any company is almost impossible to create in today’s retail atmosphere but that doesn’t make it any less important.  Also, the basics of success never change.  Word hard, be on time, play well with others, and speak well of your company (even if you don’t mean it). That’s a “politically correct” basic law of employment these days and unless you realize it your screwed.  They’ll be plenty of time after you retire, get laid off, or fired for you to make your opinions heard.  ‘Work ethic’ is something you hopefully learn from your role models as you grow up and then pass along to your children.

I’ve always had an excellent ‘work ethic’ which was taught to me by my father. He was a man who I always considered to be a force of nature.  He was big, strong, and opinionated and never feared to speak his mind to anyone about anything.  Both sides of my family tree were blue collar immigrants to the US who settled in western Pennsylvania to work in the coal mines, steel mills, glass plants, and farms.  I watched them march off to the mines and mills every day at 5:00 am and return home filthy and exhausted at 6:00 pm or later.  Family was everything  then  and caring for them was every adult’s priority.

I was about seven when my father’s union went on strike.  He didn’t receive unemployment insurance just a small stipend from the union’s strike fund.  The strike was mean and nasty and seemed to go on forever.  My dad was forced to find a part-time job to bring in enough money for the basics.  There was at that time a government “surplus food program” but that only supplied us with ten pounds of processed cheese every couple of weeks, a box of powdered milk, and containers of my all-time favorite, powdered eggs.  We survived on that awful stuff because we had no choice. To this day I still crave that damn processed cheddar cheese.

My dad found his part-time job delivering coal.  This was back in the day when almost every household heated their homes with coal. He would arrive at the mine at 5:30 am, pick up a dump truck and a load of coal and begin his daily deliveries.  He worked between ten and twelve hours a day to make on a good day fifteen dollars.  He would arrive at the client’s home, remove sections of a metal chute from the truck, clip them together to reach the coal chute going into the house. He would then tip the truck bed up and push the coal down the chute and into the residence.  He collected the money from the homeowner and proceeded on to the next house.  At the end of the day he turned in the money at the mine and went home.

I was about seven years old and I wanted to spend time with my dad and to help him.  So I bugged him to death to take me to work with him and he finally agreed. So about twice a week I would ride along to help my dad (I wasn’t much help) deliver coal throughout the neighboring communities. He did all the work and I tried to help. We’d get home late, filthy dirty from the coal dust and hungry enough to even eat those crappy powered eggs. 

I saw what hard work really was watching my dad.  He never complained (around us kids) and always did what was needed to take care of his family. He returned to work after the strike without bitching or complaining and never looked back. He worked for that same employer for another thirty five years moving his way up the food chain from laborer to running the Maintenance Department for the entire factory.  He eventually took his well deserved pension, retired, and lived out the remainder of his life a reasonably happy person.

Those memories are what created in me a good solid “work ethic”.  It made me something of an over-achiever and that stayed with me throughout my own career  until my retirement a few years ago.  Everyone should be so lucky to have role models like mine.  I never heard the term ‘work ethic’ used until I was in the work force as an adult. It’s something I never really thought much about because it was ingrained in me at such a early age.

I’m not here to complain about todays younger generations who have an entirely new list of issues to deal with.  I know I’m glad I’m not their age and just starting out.  That doesn’t change the fact that the basic approach for success remains the same, generation to generation.   Life and work are never going to be easy and they shouldn’t be.  If you become successful through your own hard work and effort and it’s too easy, you never properly appreciate it. 

Just my humble opinion.

2 responses to “01-12-2013

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  1. I fear the next generation will not enjoy what we have,,,probably because our parents taught us what ethics are and why they are important. I think our generation has not done a good job of passing it along. But fear not our government will save us!

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