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The first "secretary" I had to work with, Maria, pretended she had a job. She'd show up (almost always on time). She'd answer the telephone. And that's it. Her eyes were glued to the clock from about 5:50 until 6:00, which was quitting time. Woe betide the caller who rang at 6:01; they'd get the answering machine.

When I asked my boss what the hell was going on, he explained that Maria's folks had plenty of money, Maria was often exposed to our competitors and their people, and therefore could be counted on to blurt out information about what the latest gossip was in the industry. Aha! Then it was the prestige of being an insider in our organization that kept her coming in and out each day. "No," said my employer, "she couldn't care less about this place. Her mommy and daddy will cut off her allowance if she doesn't hold down a job."
 

The Job of Finding a Job

My father was "downsized" in 1970. The day after he got a box and cleared out his desk he spent some time playing with my brother and me. At dinnertime that night he told us that he was going to be around more often (hopefully for just a little while) but should not be disturbed until after five o'clock each day.

The day after that, just as he had nearly every weekday as long as I could remember, he put on his suit and his tie and his hat, grabbed his briefcase, and went out. His was a career in sales; and now he was given the task (for the first time since his high school days) to sell his most important product: himself. He did this without fail for about two months until my mother (who'd not worked since they were married in 1947) suggested that perhaps he should take "just any old job" for the meantime until something in his specific field opened up.

Dad was aghast. He was hurt and he was angry. Years later he told this story to me after I'd lost a job and was going to have to get a resume together. I vaguely recalled the argument between dad and my mother. He told me that I could get a job pushing papers around but that if I did I'd become bored quickly, resentful and unhappy. He told me that my sanity was worth more than any paycheck.
 

Three Different Types of Employee

One of the most frightening events in my career was being given the task of managing a group of people. I knew a lot of managers, and there were precious few who got any sort of satisfaction out of the job. The few who found management (of people) rewarding had co-workers (or underlings) who were model employees.

Management is like walking a tight rope. Work must be done right and submitted on time. One day, one must be assertive in order to get work done; another, praise must be given for a job well done without over-doing it, and causing envy among co-workers.

These days it's an employer's market. Corporations everywhere are cutting jobs by the thousands. In fact, when I'm approached at my business, it breaks my heart to have a promising, enthusiastic applicant fill out the mandated paperwork only for me to tell them that we're not now hiring. My attorney said that I must have persons seeking jobs fill out an application which adheres to Federal and State guidelines before I tell them we're not hiring. If I tell them first, I might expose myself to a legal action based on prejudice.

From experience, I can tell you that there are three different types of employees:

  • The one who pretends to have a job. This person is completely disinterested in what's going on. This person does his or her best to do as little as possible and stay employed. To this person, work is a necessary evil so they can have money to do with as they please.
     
  • The one who has a job. This employee is often proud of his or her occupation and does it cheerfully and as best they can. This worker will do extra even though it may not be ostensible to management or other workers. This person has the satisfaction of knowing that they earned every penny of their pay check.
     
  • Finally there's the kind of person who truly enjoys what they do. Occasionally these people are so committed to their job they spend extra hours. These individuals volunteer for the tough assignments consistently. By the middle of their working years, they're exactly where they want to be and are happy being there. This one has a career.
     

Why pretend to have a job? Why do something you don't find rewarding? There are legions of people who'd be bored to tears if it weren't for a great career. Why not join them?

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