Today was a long day.
every day is a long day. Even the “half-day” I spend at the shop most
Saturdays seems long. But no matter how long they may seem, weekdays
still seem longer.
I’m at the shop and working by 6:30 in the
morning and almost never leave before 6:30 in the evening. Despite what
you may think, the hours don’t really bother me. I like what I do
Anyone with an aftermarket address already knows that
some hours have lots more than 60 minutes. Some hours are longer and
more difficult than others. And today was filled with a bunch of them.
couldn’t really tell you what went wrong or what failed to go right,
unless I exercised a little editorial license and made a bunch of stuff
up. I’m not above that. In fact, that is exactly what I had to do when
my kids were little and asked what I did for the 12 hours I was at the
shop and I couldn’t come up with a “real” answer.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to tell them what I did that day. I couldn’t.
It wasn’t that I was ashamed of what I did, either. I wasn’t ashamed then, and I’m certainly not ashamed now.
was just that by the end of a day spent the way you spend yours or I
spend mine, one crazy event bleeds into another until you’re standing
knee deep in a kind of “Absence of Sanity” stew.
I wish today was
such a day a blurry, bleary-eyed day of not much more than reacting.
But it wasn’t. Today, the problems were as clear and unpleasant as they
were obvious. The solutions weren’t all that difficult to distinguish
either. They just turned out to be as uncomfortable and unpleasant as
they were easy to identify.
There isn’t much that can be said for
a day that ends with having to let someone go. It is perhaps the most
difficult thing a small business owner may have to confront,
especially, in an economy like this, especially if the person you have
to let go has a family. But that’s exactly how I ended this day,
unless, of course, you count the customer who came to pick up his
vehicle as we were closing the gate. He wanted to hang out and “chat”
while everyone around him was trying desperately to clean up and go
That “extra” half-hour, 45 minutes, would have been
difficult enough had the half-hour or 45 minutes that preceded it been
filled with anything other than the realization that I had no choice
other than to end someone’s employment here. Those hours might have
been moderately tolerable if I didn’t have to write a final pay check
or explain how or why things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped they
might just a few short weeks ago. But under the circumstances, that
just wasn’t an option. And that’s what was and still is driving me
There is a recession going on. It’s made all the papers.
It’s even been on television. California is dealing with the highest
unemployment we’ve seen in decades.
People are out of work, facing
lay-offs or just plain scared and we were hiring! I’m not naïve. I am
not without experience. I know I can’t motivate someone to do a good
job or even to any job at all. I know the individual must want to work.
Motivation is all about what’s inside.
I try to hire for attitude,
not just for aptitude. I know I can train the right person for ability
later on. I also know that if it is the right person, more than likely
I won’t have to. They will seek out the training themselves. But, to
have a “trained professional” sit on their dignity waiting for someone
to tell them what to or when to do it when everyone around them is
trying like hell to get things done is maddening. Then to have them
fail? Well, that’s just plain unacceptable.
There isn’t room for
that kind of attitude in an economy like this. Frankly, I’m not sure
there has ever been room for that kind of an attitude anywhere and at
any time. And maybe that’s the message. Maybe that’s the point.
you’re working, recognize the fact that you’re lucky to be working. If
you don’t believe me, ask someone who isn’t. Ask someone who wants a
job and can’t find one. And, if you are working, don’t screw it up.
the best you can. Be the best you can. Try as hard as you can for as
long as you can. Make it obvious. Make it clear. Let the guy you work
for and the people you work with know that you appreciate the
opportunity you’ve been given.
Don’t force someone, someone like me, to end his day the way I had to end mine.
got home after 7, got washed up and found myself standing in front of
the barbecue grilling a couple of burgers as I tried to work my way
backward through a very long, very trying day. My wife smiled, slid the
screen door open and joined me on the patio.
“How was your day, honey? What happened? Who was in? Who’d you talk to?”
turned my head and just looked at her for a moment. Then I did the only
thing I could think of: I started to make stuff up. I tried to create
the kind of day she wanted to hear about, not the kind I had.
Schneider co-owns and operates Schneider’s Automotive Service in Simi
Valley, CA. Readers can contact him at [email protected]