What does the hard working man look like?

The hardworking man works nine to five and makes it known.

The hardworking man plops onto the vintage couch with a remote control in his hand shortly after punching his time card.

The hardworking man deserves a homemade meal after a long day.

The hardworking man rests until the time comes to punch in again.

 

The hardworking man has a family.

The hardworking man pulls twelve-hour shifts, four days a week.

The hardworking man fits in hobbies in between gigs.

The hardworking man doesn’t sleep in and takes the trash out before a second twelve-hour shift.

The hardworking man works to feel rewarded.

 

The hardworking man puts on his mask in the morning; a pressed button-up shirt and aftershave.

The hardworking man asks questions when her attention scurries away.

The hardworking man is financially supportive but a verbal abuser.

The hardworking man makes the bread. He’s the money maker. He’s the decision maker.

She gets up at 3:15 a.m. even if she was drinking hours earlier because life is too short to go to bed early.

She lifts twice her bodyweight to compliment genetics; can’t get rid of big legs, but body dysmorphia lingers for long.

She sets unrealistic goals in hope of a better life and then beats herself up when they’re not met.

She runs on four hours of sleep, runs a fundraiser race, bikes around town, gardens while the sun is still high, cleans the apartment and preps for dinner, but then fights yawns to prolong the romance that fulfills a high every single day.

I walk a fine line between bragging and bitterness. You’re not as good as I am and I’m not better than the next person. You must have had a hard day sitting at your desk job. You really deserve all those calories. And I do too because the 245-pound deadlift isn’t sustainable on coffee and carrots.

Oh right, you must have had a hard day working five hours with your friends moving furniture while I jumped from job-to-job and can feel my heart about to explode from the abundance of caffeine.

Chase the money because it’ll kill you before you can use it. Does success come from busting your ass or getting lucky?

What makes a hard worker? Is that measured by success, or how tired you are at the end of the day? People often get recognized for making moves in silence, but those who push through are hardly seen.

I’ve hopped around a few jobs to witness my fair share of workers (office, service, early-morning, hospitality, customer service, babysitting, etc.). There are people who do what they’re told and they show up just for the shift. Once the shift is over and they leave, everything leaves their mind. The shift worker.

I’ve seen people who come in brand new and kiss ass because they know exactly what they want out of the job and they’ll strive to get it. I’ve seen people who’ve had a hard life, but don’t do anything to make it better and it shows in the workplace; telling stories to customers for pitty tips, bringing personal life drama to work, etc.

As of late, I find myself reminiscing about the values I was taught as a young teen; lessons I didn’t value at the time. Some revolve around being selfless and thinking about others before yourself. For example, getting napkins or a glass of water before eating dinner and asking everyone else if they need anything, or just doing things without being asked to. Do you want to repeat the same sentence to someone 5 days a week every month of the year? No. And neither does your employer. Not everyone is taught that.

While in high school, I’d watch my mom sleep for a few hours during the day to work her overnight job. There was rarely a time where she had only one job. I used to get mad that I wasn’t fortunate enough to grow up in a rich family, and now I’ve never been more grateful to have the same hard-working, persevering genes that my family instilled in me. Their manners and social skills are much better than those I’ve met who come from a well-off family.

There are certain behaviors that you catch on to that can help you navigate through life and help communicate and work with others.

The other day my coworker asked me why I was scrubbing a cabinet in the waitress section of the restaurant and I said something along the lines of “deep cleaning.” She thought it was the oddest thing. I wasn’t going to assume that the owners have time to hit every nook and cranny of the restaurant after taking time to operate the establishment 12-14 hours per day, 6 days a week. It’s the little things we keep out of our mind that make us the shift worker. The goal is to be more than the shift worker, in my opinion.

A few wise folks I know shared their thoughts with me about being a hard worker:

“Finishing a job once it is started; showing up, respecting your bosses and yourself!”

“Doing what has to be done without being told. Insisting that something worth doing is worth doing well.”

“Putting in more effort than is necessary.”

“Do your job without question; beginning to end. If you have a problem ask for instructions; (the only ‘stupid question is the one you don’t ask’!)!”

 

After surviving another season of change, and talking to so many people for advice, my mission is, to be honest, kind and a hard worker. Whatever that means to you, do it, and do it well.

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