Give a Little Effort
In my youth, I was never what one would call a good employee. My first job, selling newspapers, I bailed on after two days. Creepy boss aside, I could not make myself knock on doors to sell stuff, even basic things like newspapers. The one shift I worked alone, I just walked up and down the street until the van came to pick me up. Selling things was never going to be something I was comfortable doing. This came into play later on when I was on a mission for the LDS church. I never liked the sales type of approach and that is what it often felt like, going door to door, giving what they called “door approaches”. The thought of it still makes me cringe-That sickening feeling as you stood on a doorstep, suit and tie and bad haircut, shaking with nervous energy, hoping that no one is home, but knowing it will be your turn until someone answers. Yeah, awful. I hate selling things.
My second job introduced me to the world of grocery. I started out as a cart pusher, stock boy and worked my way up to dairy clerk, later on to the produce department. Work is probably the wrong word. I went to the store and sometimes did some things that were asked of me. I found all sorts of interesting ways to avoid working. I was 17 and wanted very badly to just get the money and not have to do anything for it. You really can find comfortable places to sleep in a dairy cooler, if you are patient and look.
My first full time job saw me as a warehouse worker, where I learned that I could do actual manual labor, if I wanted to, which I didn’t. Again, I found all sorts of fantastically interesting places to sleep and hide. I did enjoy working on the delivery trucks, driving all over the city, seeing the inside of so many homes. Sometimes we would have to deliver out of the county. Those were the best trips, driving to Heber or Midway, Park City or even Nephi, taking bad end tables and cheap sofas to people. I liked the physical nature of the work, combined with the often mind blowing efforts to get furniture through tight spaces and around or over obstacles. It was challenging, and I learned to do it well. Still, when I was given the choice to do my job or find someway to avoid it, I would choose the later.
It is very possible that I am remembering this next part wrong. And by wrong I mean out of order, either the job, or where I lived, or if this conversation took place at home or on a drive, but we are going to pretend this is how it went down.
I recall when I began working for ZCMI that I was constantly taking time off, calling in sick, being my usual unproductive self. One day, Sheryl came home from work and I was already there. I was supposed to be working until 9, but decided I wanted to do anything but my job. Sheryl was disappointed with me and we sat down to talk. I don’t recall the entire conversation, but one thing she said stuck. In essence, I had agreed to do a job and I should take some pride in being reliable, doing what I said I would do.
My wife is pretty damn smart.
From that point on, I started to give some effort to doing my job well. My entire attitude changed. I ended up leaving ZCMI with a bad taste in my mouth, but it was for other reasons than my laziness or poor effort.
When I worked at UPS, I worked my backside off, doing my best to get the job done. Loading shipping containers accurately and rapidly, I made some fantastic friends and learned a great deal about doing a hard job well and the emotional and physical rewards that accompany that sort of effort. It remains one of my favorite places I have been employed.
This carried over to my work at the library (though some might argue my effort. They would be wrong and jealous. HAH), where I could always be counted on to work extra shifts, be on time, do my job. Don’t misunderstand, I still took days off when I really wasn’t ill, but they were very few and far between. Because of some honest criticism from someone I respected and loved, I made a change for the better. What surprised me the most is what I was capable of accomplishing. I could do more, be more than I thought possible.
It’s always the little moments.