Prejudice is Alive and Well in 2011 – Unfortunately

I was enjoying a pleasant experience at a suburban men’s clothing store the other day. My sales person, John was enthusiastically taking my money and I was excited about the clothing he had up-sold me. I only went in for a shirt…the alterations on my new sport coat and 2 pair of slacks would be ready in 2 days.

John was interrupted by another salesperson,”He doesn’t want me to wait on him. “John said, “What?” and was answered, “He wants his own kind.” John stopped and looked at the other employee and said, “Excuse me?” The employee repeated, “He doesn’t want me to help him.”

This is 2011. I’m shopping in a nice, suburban neighborhood, retail outlet. The customer refusing help is a clean-cut, well-groomed, professional-looking, 30 something. Is this for real?

With clenched jaw, John went to the stores manager. The manager helped the customer.
The employee who had been refused was a 70-year-old retired military man. He fought for our country and defended us all.

If you Google “Hate Groups,” there are over 900 hate groups listed. Should we start a dexteresque hate group–a hate group that hates hate groups? Well…no. It’s a reminder that racism continues to exist. It can be anywhere and is everywhere. It is the responsibility of people to work against it, and it starts with our children. Do not assume they know what is right – teach them, and show them.

When I was 13-years old, my parents owned and operated a neighborhood convenience store. A small cafeteria was attached to the store. Mom ran the cafeteria and dad ran the store.

The cafeteria did a lively lunch business supported by a few local businesses. One warm summer day, a local power company service crew stopped to eat. One member of the service crew was an African American (back then, he was black). Several regulars from a local gravel operation began heckling the man, “You know where the colored section is? It’s out in your damn truck you ___!” The heckling became worse. My dad took off his white store apron, handed it to me, and asked me to run the register. He was going to lunch. My dad went through the line, got a tray of food and sat down with the African American man. It was a lesson. The cafeteria closed a short time later. It had been black- balled. Over the years, my dad taught me we all have prejudices, but must understand they are wrong and work to change them. Teach your children.

Here are several tolerance teaching organizations including:
Anti-Racist Parent, Teaching Tolerance, Character Education, and the Civil Rights Project.

Are You Happy?

Recently, over lunch, Greg asked if I would guest post about separating work and Life. As I considered what I would like to share, I realized how many different approaches were available on this subject. Do I talk of social media and how difficult it is to separate work from social media 24/7? How about strategies to balance your life? How to make work fun or eliminate stress? I could talk about balancing work, family, spiritual, and personal time. Should I explore employee and employer responsibilities?

I once took a position working fewer hours and making less income. I did this to put my life in balance. But there was a larger consideration. Although I believed in the ethics, mission, and vision of the organization, I was no longer passionate about my responsibilities within the organization. It was a disservice to the company and myself to stay. It was not my happy place. Should we expect work to make us happy? Can we make work a happy place?

During the industrial revolution when it was not uncommon to work sun up to sun down, 6-7 days a week, in poor, unsafe, and unhealthy working conditions, it was thought by many thinkers of the day that “free” time would make people happier. This is not always the case.

In our society it is a commonly held belief that money makes us happy. Yes, I know we give lip service to the ideal that money can’t bring happiness, but lets look at actions not words. Would you consider a significant cut in pay to be happy? Could you afford to?

So what does make us happy? Passion. Believing in what we are doing, in and out of work. Being part of a team. Having others we can talk to and count on. Knowing “this” (whatever this is) is important. How is this accomplished?

Make your passion your work….

What do you love? How can you be paid to do what you love? Who is paid to do what you love? Brad Stevens, the Butler basketball coach, left a lucrative position with Eli Lilly’s to be coordinator of basketball operations; I believe this was an unpaid position. You may have to start small, part time, on the side, or for less money.

…or be passionate about your work

  • Do your best at whatever you do, earn that wonderful feeling of accomplishment
  • Act with passion, spread positive energy
  • Bring or support innovation, creativity, and originally to projects
  • Refresh – take breaks, gear back up
  • Learn something new – take a class, study on line or go to a seminar.
  • Engage others – be an advocate
  • Understand the vision, mission, and direction of the organization
  • Speak your mind, politely, but with passion and truth.

This post is probably not what Greg had in mind. It really is not about how to separate work from life. It is how to be happier by making work a fulfilling, happy part of your life, not just a paycheck. Are you happy at work, why or why not?


First Image: graur codrin /