Take This Job and Love It

“Take This Job and Shove  It”  wailed  Johnny Paycheck.  I’ve never understood  that attitude. I’ve had many  jobs and have enjoyed them all. I’m talking about jobs as            defined by the job description and am not including the surrounding company atmosphere. Like most everyone, I have reported to people I didn’t like or respect. Like most blue-collar guys, I started with the basics. I swept floors, cleaned toilets, dug ditches, scooped out the cow barn after the milking was done, washed and greased cars, and did a lot of real manual labor. Time passed and I gained knowledge and experience and moved on up.  After the Navy, I started  as a  Test Technician, then Assistant- Assembly Foreman,  Assembly Foreman, Test Foreman,  Production  Supervisor,  Manufacturing Manager, Assistant Plant Manager, and Vice President.

It’s up to you to control your life. Don’t dismiss your job as being boring or meaningless. And don’t perform it as a robot or automaton. Be thankful for the job you have today. It’s feeding your kids and putting a roof over their heads. Equally important is the idea that you go home at night knowing that you have given it your best shot.

Don’t forget the importance of learning. You should learn as much as possible about the job you have, plus you should be preparing for your next job. Learning is an individual thing. In 1961, I was working for an electronics manufacturer as a Test Technician. We tested digital voltmeters, DC amplifiers, x-y recorders, and monitor oscilloscopes as they came off the production line. The technology was in flux as vacuum tubes were being replaced by semiconductors. I was working five ten hour days plus eight hours on Saturdays. Additionally, my commute time amounted to an hour to an hour and a half a day. I took a night course on transistor theory and integrated circuits at City College. It was a good class and has served me well over the years, but I hated being away from home at night. I had a wife, 3 kids, a home, and a yard and thought they all deserved more  attention than I was giving them. By 1962, I was an assistant foreman in the Assembly Department, and was getting involved in estimating and product costing. I found a correspondence course called “Accounting for Managers,” and went to work on it.  I got up at 4:45 each morning and studied until 6:00 am and then got ready to go to work. It took me over two years to complete the course, but it served me well for the rest of my working life.

About the time I was turning 60, the company I was working for was sold. The new owners were bringing in their own people, so I was let go. I was a little bit anxious about the future as I knew that most companies would be looking for young guys as managers, and I might have trouble finding a position. I was also reluctant to get acquainted with a new company’s rules and software system. I sent out some resumes, and one of the first responses I received was from a temp agency that had a spot for an Estimating Manager. I liked estimating and was good at it. I’ve got to admit that I thought of estimating as a “side” job because, as a supervisor or Manufacturing Manager, I was used to being in the middle of the action. Every department has the potential for problems every day. Machines break down, vendors don’t ship, parts don’t arrive, the power goes off, and employees have problems. I sometimes had as many as 130 electronic assemblers and machine shop people working for me and that makes for plenty of HR problems.

The agency’s initial pitch about the estimating job sounded pretty good, so I interviewed with them and the company they were representing, and took the job. It turned out to be a great experience. Not being in the line of fire, I was able to enjoy the estimating job completely. Not being the “go to” guy in the production arena, I didn’t have to respond to the hourly emergencies or get involved in the drama or hassles of production. What a difference! I loved it!

There are a couple of thoughts for your consideration:  Face each day with enthusiasm and with your head on straight. Be aware that after evaluating hundreds of people from entry-level assemblers to electronic engineers, I (or someone like me) can walk in the door of your work place and know from your body language just what kind of person you are. Take this job and love it. Your contribution and attitude will be noticed.

Dave Thomas



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