Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

I Know You Didn’t Just Say That To Me

So one of my supervisors decides to say to me, “you’re such a negative person.”  Now I consider myself a very positive person, in spite of the things that I have dealt with in my life, and continue to deal with, and will deal with.  But if my reaction to him was to just want to give him a “backhand”, must I forfeit my positive attitude claim?

There are certain roles that I have taken on in my life, some of the leadership, some of them role models.  It is my positive attitude that allowed me to choose to take on these things, as well as have the support from my peers to be selected for those roles.  As a cancer survivor, my role is simply to encourage and inspire.  In spite of everything I have gone through over the last five years, that is truly what I want to do.

As a political candidate, that too can be inspirational as to the reason why I would run for what many say is a thankless job, school board.  But given that I balance a full time job, medical appointments for myself, attend school district meetings, and still have time to campaign, I guess for the most part, it has been a positive thing in my life.

But as for work, after more than thirteen years of the department I am currently in, this past Winter I was elected one of four shop stewards.  I belong to a union.  There is very little positive to be thought about the shop steward position, again it is thankless, and unfortunately it is a lot of mediation and awareness.  So it is very rare to have the opportunity to be positive.  Any my record over these last thirteen years do speak for themselves as far as me being a “positive” employee.

I miss the old days of working for a “mom and pop” company.  Where numbers of employees were small enough that it was like a second family away from home.  You give that up when you work for a big company in corporate America.  Quantity becomes the priority over quality.  Greed replaces reputation.  Success blurred from pride.

In most of my working life, up until I came to this company and into this department, my work reputation had been spotless.  I had never been terminated, never even reprimanded.  My attendance record was near spotless, including during my treatment days.  Unfortunately, the downside of working for such a small company, lack of advancement opportunities and benefits.  Being a cancer survivor, benefits often outweigh value even over salary.  And given my health status today, I am very thankful that as a union member, I have group health insurance.

But it did not take long before I got a taste of what it was like to work for a major corporation.  Within the first couple of weeks, I had received a reprimand.  And in spite of my protest and objection, and ability to prove myself innocent, instead I faced a blackmail-like behavior by not only management, but by my union representation.  Eventually, it got to the point, where I was so stubborn with my work ethic, unable to get me to crumble, management made it personal.

Every year, I would struggle with not being able to get management to back off.  And it seemed every year, it would escalate.  I ended up isolated from my co-workers, some who had been more than just co-workers.  Given the union representation that I had, I was hoping to be elected to the shop steward position.  Over the years, I have seen so much quality go down, more bullying from management, so now that I am finally in the position of shop steward, I can now deal with much of these problems, or at least be aware of more of them.  At least by them not being sprung on me, that can help prevent me from erupting with stress.

But that is just it, with my hermit-like reputation at work, now I will be a lot more visible.  But I will be seen coming to the defense of people, in other words, for negative things.  It is kind of hard trying to put a positive spin on something such as an employee being served a termination notice while recovering from open heart surgery, or while laying in a hospital bed in a coma from a car accident (yes, both are real events).

Unfortunately, I have to leave work to get back to that positive outlook.  Unfortunately I have to repeat that whole behavior the next day.  And that is hard to put a positive spin on.

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