For 6 years of my life I was considered “essential personal” as a soldier in the United States Air Force. This meant that under ANY condition I was to report to work. No matter what was going on “out there”, my job was to be “here” period. I am now a civilian, non-essential employee and it has been really hard breaking out of the military mindset. Over the last 4 weeks Atlanta, Ga has been subjected to unusual freezing and it has not been pretty. I have been talking with my girlfriend about feeling guilty for not going into work, but through our conversations I have realized that my life is not worth my job. However, because of whatever personality flaw of mine or that military mindset still holding tight, I still feel the need to explain myself. There is no need of attempting to explain myself to my employer for not coming into work today. All they care is that I am not there when I am scheduled to be there. So I figured I would explain myself to you. Here is my extensive, more than needed, explanation as to why I did not report to work today.
Yesterday, at work, I was discussing the impending weather and whether or not we would show up to work today with a co-worker. During said discussion my co-worker recalled an incident where there was snow and ice at a past job and how one of his colleagues was pressured to come into work. She never made it. She died in transit after slipping on ice and flipping over into a ditch. My co-workers recollection really hit home for me and made me think about civilian employment as opposed to military employment. My first question to my co-worker was “Did the family sue the company?”, to which he answered no. My second question was “Did the company do anything for the surviving family members?”, to which he also answered no. The story made me wonder what would happen if that were me. My first thought was that if I were still in the military and working as essential personal, then I would get a full military funeral because I would have “died in the line of duty”. My family would get the grim, yet personal visit from uniformed service members to deliver the news of my death. At my funeral there would be some representation from the service to let my family know that I will be remembered. And finally my family would get a million dollar pay out from my military insurance, plus whatever monies I had not received for the next pay period. Not bad right? But if it were the company that I worked for now, the most I would get is flowers at my funeral from my “friends” at work.
The whole thing really got me to thinking. Being that I work in the “Life and Property” industry, the civilian company I work for sent out an e-mail in anticipation of the weather pretty much stating “our customers still expect us to be here so we should be here.” It irked my nerves and I imagine that after this mass call out of employees a conversation will be had where they will push the issue. This is where my extensive rebuttal to a conversation yet to happen comes in.
I see my job like this: My co-workers and I go to work to get paid. In going to work to get paid there are inherent risk. But those risk are no different from the risk in living a normal, everyday life. I could die on my way to work just as I could die going to get pizza. The same thing can be said for my employer. They take risk in selling a product and in exchange for that product they expect profit. The employees help make that profit possible by taking on the general, minimal, inherit risk of employment [referred to in the picture as (in)risk]. Now, in adverse conditions the scales are not the same. There is an added and actual risk [referred to in the picture as (ac)Risk] for the employee to report to work. However in most cases, like mine, there is no added reward to do so. Where as the employer has all of these risk built into their inherent risk of offering a product for profit. There are no additional risk in adverse conditions for the employer. In particular, for my employer there is an entirely separate back up site on the other side of the U.S. that has every resource and capability needed for my employer to continue to offer a product for profit without interruption. So again, there is no additional risk being taken on by my employer in adverse conditions. Doesn’t seem fair that I, or anyone is still expected to report to work does it? Now, if my employer offered an additional incentive for the employees additional risk, let’s say double or triple overtime pay, then the scale goes back to normal and I wouldn’t be writing this article right now because I would be at work. But they did not. So I am here. What they did offer us was a sleeping bag, and a limited amount of paid for hotel rooms for those of us who’s vehicle could traverse the slippery road conditions. Not even close to covering the additional actual risk of the employee.
So…yea. It’s been hard but I am slowly learning that my presence or lack there of is not ensuring the completion of a “mission” that affects the safety and security of soldiers in combat or the United States. If I show up I help ensure that my employer stays in the black, meets it’s prospectus, and pays it’s CEO and upper echelon staff millions to keep them living a life style I may never know. I think they will be okay if I miss a day or two due to weather.
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