#85: Take Pride In What You Do
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Do you remember Dog 'N Suds drive-in restaurants? They were popular many years ago in the northern states. A carhop would take your order at your car if you chose to eat outside. When your meal was ready, it would be carried to your car and served on a metal tray with legs that fit over the door's edge. Just like at the beginning of the Flintstones TV cartoon show and the Happy Days sitcom.
Dog 'N Suds was my first job in high school. It was while there I learned valuable lessons about work. I went home one night after my shift and complained to my dad, a career Navy officer, that I wasn't going back to work for a lousy $1.40 an hour. That pay rate dates me, doesn't it? :)
He softly explained that there is nothing wrong with work. The problem is often with employee's attitudes. "You agreed to do the work for a set amount of money. If you are not satisfied with what you are paid, then give notice and quit. But, if you stay, do the best you can every day. Be polite to your customers because they pay the money you earn. But, most of all, take pride in what you do."
Our boss was Sarkis Emerzian. Several of us worked at his Dog 'N Suds all through high school -- me, Charlie Lindner, Bill Woods and Carol Sheevy. Others can and went but we were the core. I learned how nice it is to work with people for a long time, people also dedicated to doing the best job they could.
None of us were embarrassed to sweep up the parking lot where we got our share of catcalls from our buddies. Neither Charlie, Bill or I shied away from cleaning the grease pit or taking apart the malt machine when it needed a thorough cleaning. These things were part of our job and we were happy to do them.
That "will do" attitude was one we all possessed. I guess it showed. The restaurant did a brisk business and was profitable for Sark, as we called him, even after a McDonald's opened down the road. We enjoyed our work and took pride in it.
Yesterday I saw another example of an employee who enjoyed her work. I drove a friend to exchange a malfunctioning TV. The refund/exchange line was long and there was only one young lady working the counter. A smile never left her face while we were there. When there was a delay, she announced to all of us what the problem was and what was being done to resolve it. Her interest in us was appreciated and, I'm sure, kept some people from becoming surly. It was obvious she took pride in the work she did. As a result, customers in turn enjoyed dealing with her.
If you were a ditch digger, would you ensure the corners were square and the sides straight? That's what pride in a job well done is about.
It is a lesson I learned from two wise men. RIP Dad and Sarkis knowing that the advice you gave and the examples you set still carry on today.
Whatever your work and whatever else you do, take pride in it. Enjoy yourself. Yes, work is often true drudgery and bosses and customers don't always offer compliments. But, if we do our best we can hold our heads high and walk away knowing we took pride in what we did.