Have you ever been a teacher?
Did you ever become angry at a student for turning in sloppy work, or at a spouse or child for leaving their dirty laundry everywhere?
If you still have a job, even if it’s a shitty one, do you still find yourself becoming impatient with lazy coworkers, because they’re not just “screwing the man,” they’re also screwing you?
Compassion shows in our work, when a student turns in a neatly typed paper, or your husband (it’s usually the husband) cleans up after himself, or a coworker goes the extra mile not to please the company, but to make your life just a little bit easier.
Anecdotal evidence has convinced me that the hardest working employees are typically the most compassionate. In my case now, there are people in customer service who make sure their edits are clear, and typesetters who self proofread their work, because they make enough errors even when they do, but noticeably less. They understand that these actions ultimately make the job quicker and easier for everyone.
On the other hand, there is one person in customer service who literally mailed it in, meaning instead of marking up a page and entering it into the scheduler, he took a picture with his phone and uploaded that.
And there are some typesetters who consistently turn in lousy edits, because they figure that I or another proofreader will catch them anyway, and kick them back to be reedited, which of course enrages them. No one likes to be corrected, even when it’s my job to correct them, and since they can’t refuse, they grow bitter instead, which in turn makes the proofreaders frustrated with them. Marking up errors takes time, as does waiting for the corrections, and there have been times when there were so many errors, I’ve kicked back the entire job.
This is not an ideal situation for any of us. My coworkers are older people, and some aren’t very technologically savvy. For the last 14 months and counting, we’ve been trapped with each other 10–12 hours a day, everyday. If I were to die in my apartment, my boss would be the first to notice.
Another obstacle is that we were acquired shortly before the pandemic, and each company still has different cultures. In the company that bought us, the managers text messages like “Happy Friday!,” even though most of us are working Saturday or Sunday or both. Whereas in my company, the manager texted “Happy another day at work day!” We tend to be more straightforward and less communicative, because honestly, most of the communication and the pings are a huge waste of time.
Still, I can respect the new managers because they honestly try to get along with everyone and work hard. And after over a year of this, I’ve noticed an increase in empathy from everyone, myself included, because we’re all stuck in this nightmare together.
It’s so busy during peak, you lose the will to shave, cook, or do much of anything. My boss told me that when he orders takeout now, he does so for three or four days at a time. In the beginning, I was baking and roasting, and trying relatively easy new recipes. Now, I’m back to cereal, ramen, and bologna sandwiches. My dream is to pay off my mortgage, then get a job as a janitor, or the least stressful job I can imagine that provides health insurance.
Anyone can talk about compassion, or virtue signal on social media, but if you’re a lousy employee, you’re hurting your coworkers and you don’t care, which makes it more difficult to take any of your “philanthropy” seriously. You don’t want to help as much as you want to feel better about yourself, and it shows in your work.
The world is always going to be upside down. It’s insane that some of us have to work so much while others are unemployed. Not everyone is qualified for every job, and I understand the logistical problems, even when it comes to working from home, but there has got to be a better way.
For now, we’re screwed indefinitely, and if you’re lucky enough to have gainful employment, being worked to death is still better than being broke. If you’re willing to put in just a little more effort, it will eventually affect the culture and circle back to benefit you as well.
In a situation with no good choices, this is an easy one. Your managers will appreciate you, and you’ll make life a little easier for everyone.
Compassion shows in your work, and people will recognize and appreciate it.