A few months ago, towards the end of my last days of teaching, I became frustrated. I don’t remember the particulars of why I was so frustrated, but I do recall it had something to do with a work colleague not doing their job. The last month of school is always chaotic and impossibly busy, and everyone’s nerves are frayed and fried to a crisp. When one person doesn’t do their job, and others have to pick up the slack, it’s stressful for everyone. Just do your job became my personal rallying cry that last month of school, and eventually it took on a life of its own.
All of a sudden, all around me, I became aware of how many people weren’t doing their jobs. By job I don’t necessarily mean a paid job. Your job could be anything you’ve said you were going to do, or a responsibility you have, or a task that you’ve inherited, for whatever reason.
For instance, if you’re a parent, your job is to take care of your child. You get them to school on time, make sure they have their homework and lunch money, and you get them to bed at a decent hour each night. If you just do your job, your child will more than likely have a good shot at adulthood.
If you tell someone you’re going to do something, your job is to do it. No questions, no excuses, no backing out. Just do what you promised.
If your job is to answer phones and direct calls, you answer the phone and direct the call. Simple. No arguing required. That’s your job.
My marathon running friends have got this one down. If you’ve trained for a marathon, then your job is to run 26.2 miles. For that one day, no matter what, you’re going to do everything humanly possible to power through those 26.2 miles. Your life focuses down to that one pinpoint of activity, and you get the job done–even if you have to crawl those last 6 miles.
I hadn’t thought about my rallying call all summer until this past week. I discovered some fraudulent activity on my credit card and decided to close the account and request a new card. Things like this tend to stress me out because I know the simple act of calling and getting this straightened out will turn into a big hassle. I was right.
First, there was the recording and endless menu options. After I figured out which option I needed, and which number to push, the line kept hanging up on me. Not once, but four times. Finally, I reached a human voice and managed to get the negligent charge investigated. I was assured that I didn’t need to close the account, that this company would not be able to make any future charges on my card. I hung up, somewhat satisfied.
Next, I decided to check the most recent card activity online, and noticed another company I hadn’t done business with had charged me $0.00 just the day before. Even though they didn’t actually charge me anything, I decided to call them up and find out what was going on. A very nice man told me that this was a common practice, and it usually means that someone was “trying out” my card number to see if it could be used. In other words, my credit card had probably been compromised.
Finally, I decided to call the card in as stolen. Again, I had the same problem and kept getting disconnected. I eventually managed to get through, spoke with a very helpful, pleasant woman, and got the card cancelled. She even asked if I could wait a week for the new card, then offered to overnight it, waive the fee, and I would have it the next day. This woman was awesome!
Only, as you’ve probably guessed, she really wasn’t.
Of course the card didn’t arrive the next day, nor the next, nor the next. Four days later I called the credit card company again, wondering if it had been lost. Another very nice woman told me there was no way I could’ve been issued a new card and had it overnighted (which I know for a fact is not true), but that she would check. Come to find out, a new card was issued, but was sent regular mail and should be arriving in two more days. She apologized “for the inconvenience,” said she would “make a note about the transaction,” and that was that.
Of course, my first thought, as I hung up the phone was, just do your job. What a waste of time and such a stupid hassle. I didn’t need the card overnighted, but the woman offered, free of charge, so I agreed. When it didn’t arrive, as promised, a whole new cycle of annoyance began.
All of this makes me wonder, what would the world be like if everyone just did their job?
I’m pretty sure the planet would rotate smoothly on its axis and little blue flowers would sprout spontaneously across the meadows of the world.
If you tell someone you’re going to do something, just do it. If you have a job, just do it, no matter what that job is.
It really is that simple.