On Work Ethics

1996, Republic of Panama: On Work EthicsEvery now and then, I think it’s good for a man to sit back and reflect on how hard he’s been working to achieve his life’s goals, about how well he’s been doing in terms of staying focused and dedicated to the job at hand. About how seriously he takes his work. I like to think that when I’m working, there’s no way I could be working harder. Because then, when I think back on my work time, I can say that I did my best, maximized my time, and made the most of limited hours. It’s easier for one to enjoy one’s free time that way, and to look back on life in general with no regrets.

Well, in Panama, at the United States Southern Command, I was working really hard. When I joined the Maritime Watch, we were coming in at about 0230 hours to get the briefing ready for a 0530 dry run with the JOIC Commander, a 0700 run with the J2, and a final 0800 run with the Commander In Chief. Eventually, as we got better at our job, we came in at 0300, then 0400, and even 0430. Of course, IS2 Andersen was in before we (LT Fletcher and I), as he did most of the database work and brief construction. He was invaluable. I’ve rarely seen a Sailor work harder, or even as hard, as IS2 Andersen.

Nevertheless, one day, as I was driving in to work, at 0430, in the dark, a man approached my car offering to wash the windshield, as men always did at that intersection. Now you think about dedication. There were plenty of guys washing windows at that intersection, all day long. But this guy wanted to beat the competition, get out early, and make some money before all the other hawkers got there. Four thirty in the morning, and he was out there, in the dark, and the relative cool, with a squeegee, Windex, rags – admittedly dirty, and a smiley face. I really respected that guy. I wouldn’t have been up and on my way to work if I didn’t have to be, at that time. I would’ve slept in, and showed up for work at 0730 – which I still consider early, like the rest of the military. But that man set his alarm, and got out of bed – if he wasn’t sleeping on the street – which is more likely – to wash my window. I compensated him generously for his motivation, and job well done.

Funny thing was, when I was driving home at around 1730 hours, after a 13-hour work day, feeling like I’d done well, couldn’t have worked any harder, but somehow still not getting all the work done, that man was still in the same intersection. Washing windows. I will always admire his work ethic. He didn’t have a lot in that country, in that town, but he was doing his best. And that’s what I think we have to remember when we meet people like that. That they’re probably doing the best they can.

Written by Glenn Yeck | Comments Off on On Work Ethics