Why do i even bother?

July 04, 2020

No good deed ever goes unpunished.

I chewed on that bitter irony as I had to deal with an irresponsible employee.

On a Thursday morning, I chaired a department meeting and, knowing that it will spill over to our lunch break, ordered plated meals for everyone. That employee was assigned for night shift duty, so he wasn’t in the meeting. But I included him in the order, anyway. After the meeting concluded, I asked his colleagues to pack his meal and give it to him later that evening.

Friday morning gave me a rude awakening. That employee shut down a piece of equipment that caused about four hours of downtime in our operations. The reasons are too lengthy to share here, but his act was inexcusably reckless. Yes, it was that same employee to whom I showed kindness through that packed meal.

I always believe that if you treat your people well, they will respond in kind. I am not so naïve that there won’t be any laggard, resister, or even saboteur. I had my share of people letting me down, but never in the form of a work stoppage equivalent to almost a million pesos in opportunity costs. Until now.

I never rant in Facebook, except maybe about a terrible movie. But in my disappointment, I posted a “feeling sad” emoji and the cryptic words “Why do I even bother?”

Comments from my Facebook friends poured in. I appreciated the queries of concern: “Are you all right?” “What happened?” “What’s wrong?” I liked one fellow’s attempt to psychoanalyze me: “Because you care.” I received a good share of virtual hugs. I was touched by those who reached out via Private Messenger, offering help and their shoulders to cry on. (I rarely cry, by the way.)

Then I realized the answer. Why do I even bother? Because there are people who bothered to reach out to me. Yes, that one person had shaken my faith in human nature. But one community reminded me that compassion and service still reign supreme in the grand scheme of things.

As of this writing, that employee is facing disciplinary action that can lead to summary dismissal. No, I will not give him a second chance. I will let due process take its course. Mercy has its place, but not if it will expose our operations to further harm, not to mention the morale of my crew.

But yes, I will still bother to show kindness and appreciation. In that Facebook post, I was at the receiving end. The elation is so indescribable that the only way to express it is to pay it forward.

So let’s continue to be a community. Let’s bother.
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