July 29, 2015

Pride In a Job Well Done

When we moved to our new home one thing Betty asked for was a house cleaning service a few times a month. After 39 years she was tired of the dusting, vacuuming, and floor cleaning. Since we both retired 14 years ago she and I have split the chores. Even so, it is something she (and I) don't particularly look forward to. So, we found someone we both thought would do a good job and asked her to come every two weeks.


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The lady we hired does something that prompted this post: she takes real pride in the job she does for us. Sometimes with a helper, but often working alone, she spends more time and cleans more completely than we could have possibly hoped for. 

Betty, who is a bit of a perfectionist about cleaning, is wildly enthusiastic. She says she has never seen anyone who is so meticulous and so professional about her work. 

Then, just a few days ago, Betty visited a new dentist in our area. After 75 minutes, I called to make sure she was OK, that there hadn't been some problem during her checkup and cleaning. More than an hour and a half later she returned, singing the dentist's praises. He had been more thorough during the rather mundane task of cleaning her teeth and reviewing a full set of x-rays than any dentist she had ever encountered.

Assuming that all that extra time and effort would come with a big bill, I was flabbergasted to learn that he had charged 50% less than the dentist we had been seeing (and pleased with) for years. Betty says he really cared about her dental health and wanted to do the best possible job he could. 

That got me to thinking about something that we seem to have lost in our speeded-up, technological world: pride in doing a job well. Too often a job is finished, but only to an "acceptable" degree.  A real sense of giving more than expected is missing, not necessarily from fear of losing a job or facing criticism, but from a lack of pride in the task.

The house cleaner and dentist are two top-of-mind, fresh examples for me, and that is a little sad. The pride in what these two folks do should not prompt a blog post, it should be what happens all the time. Whether it is getting a car repaired, a house painted, a lawn cut, a washing machine fixed, a doctor visited, or a house cleaned, pride in a job well done should be common. 

Teaching a Sunday School class, serving a meal at the homeless shelter, completing a homework assignment, cooking a meal for friends - all can be done with a sense of pride in a job done well, or as Mary Poppins said in the 1964 movie, "a job that is well begun is half-done."

Pride in doing something, anything well, is part of a satisfying journey that I can rededicate myself to trying to achieve.


20 comments:

  1. Hi Bob, yes we too have a lady come in twice a week to do the deep cleaning for us. She is very professional and also takes pride in her work. She has been coming for about 4 years now and is almost part of the family. She calls when we are sick to make sure we are ok and visits when we are in the hospital. Like you I take great joy in seeing her take pride in a work well done.

    Also thanks for putting "That Wise Guy" up on your watch list...

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    1. Honestly, RJ, I kind of miss the feisty take on life of your previous blog, but I fully understand getting burned out on dealing with the same basic subject matter for years.

      Obviously, you have found someone who does a job well, and with pride. Good for you - and her. Watching a "professional" in any endeavor is a joy.

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    2. Yes, it is a joy. She actually has fun cleaning our house and it is twice a month not twice a week. :)

      As a matter of fact I miss the feisty take on life too and am currently doing something about it. I am resurrecting RJsCorner and integrating all my other four blogs into it. I will start posting the "feisty" stuff again but staying away from politics to the level it was. All of the old blog names/URLs will point to the new blog when it is done so no one loses a link. That will probably happen in early August.

      I found that I could stop blogging about the more contentious things in life but couldn't stop thinking of them so they just boiled under the surface. :) Like everything else in life it is just a matter of degree...

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    3. Let me know when it is all good to go and I will update the link here and become a regular visitor again.

      BTW, I will have a post in about 2 weeks about our shameful treatment of the poor...not my normal fare, but I feel that certain things just have to be said.

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  2. When I was still working, the knowledge that I had worked hard to perform at an exemplary level gave me a sense of well being and great satisfaction.

    It is a treat to obtain services from those who also value this way of thinking. About 10 years prior to retirement, we hired a housekeeper with the goal of giving us more free time to enjoy ourselves and less time spent on the mundane chores. She did a fantastic job! However over a period of several years, she spent less and less time, started charging more, and the quality slipped. Being averse to conflict, I decided to let her go and we picked up the housekeeping responsibilities ourselves. I didn't see any way around having a disgruntled person working for us.

    Often, the sense of a job well done comes from within. But this gets reinforced when recognized by those around us. The smile on the face of my favorite grocery store clerk is so sweet when I remind her that she is the best grocery bagger!

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    1. At our old home we went to the same grocery store for years and made sure to use the same clerk. We became friends, joking and kidding each other, talking about family. The clerk told us she looked forward to her visit each week and worried if she didn't see us.

      Your point about reinforcing a job well done when we encounter it is important. Too often the grocery bagger, house cleaner, or other service person we come in contact with is invisible to most of the people he or she encounters all day long. To be recognized as a fellow human being and praised makes that person feel special and appreciated - something all of us want.

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  3. I live in AZ and would love to get the name of your new dentist - the ones I've been to seem to just be interested in billing as much as they can

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    1. Drop me an email (satisfyingretirement@gmail.com) and I will be glad to give you his name and address. His office is about 5 minutes from our home in east Chandler.

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  4. The dialog sounds a lot like Dale Carnegie.
    I gave up years trying to get my wife to get some cleaning help. My wife is European and a stickler for cleanness. You could eat off our garage floor.
    The few times that she had someone coming to clean, she would work like crazy the day before cleaning the house.

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    1. Betty often does the same thing: clean before the cleaning people!

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  5. I am one of those housekeepers who takes pride in a job well done. I have picked up some part time work cleaning homes, one weekly, one every 2 weeks and 2 monthly. I take great pride in leaving their homes as clean (maybe cleaner?) than my own. I think of it as freeing them up to do other things with their time and energy. I also leave homemade cookies for the families with children. One fellow said that the days I come to clean their home is his wife's favorite day. Bob, you live in Chandler. I believe the Queen Creek Olive Mill is in Chandler. Check it out if you haven't. I could drink the fig balsamic vinegar; it's that good.

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    1. The Olive Mill is a place I have heard about, but we have yet to visit. It is in Queen Creek, about 30 minutes from us. But based on what I have heard, it is well worth the trip. When the weather turns cooler it will be a must-do for the olive oil, food, and music in the garden! Thanks, Mona

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  6. The odd thing is, we have a housecleaner once every two weeks who takes pride in her work, and even goes beyond cleaning to make sure our plants are watered, etc. -- and last week she brought us some beans and tomatoes from her garden! Now, if only I could find a decent dentist who took as much care.

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    1. How sweet...bringing fresh produce. That is a very nice gesture. Yeah, good luck with the dentist search. Betty's "find" was unusual.

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  7. Bob: Like others, I just checked back to see if you were writing again. Such a nice surprise, and a great change for going forward. I retired a little over 3 years ago, and your blog was a must read before and after that time.
    But enough time has passed, and I no longer think of the term 'retired' on a daily basis. Like you, very busy with the things life has a way of throwing at us, good and bad. Let the journey continue!

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    1. Welcome back, Rose! I hope more of the former, regular readers become curious and click on the old blog link. It is great to interact with old friends, which is how I think of all blog readers who leave comments and are a regular part of these pages.

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  8. We have a housekeeper twice a month also - have been doing it for more than 20 years. Once when my stepdaughter Laura was 15, the housekeeper got sick and I cleaned house including the bathrooms. She came upon me and said, "You do toilets?" Like it was something new to me! I still laugh when I think about it.

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    1. Our daughters say, "it's about time!" for us to have that service. I read a book recently about focusing on your "core competencies," or spending time on the things you are good at and want to do, and having others take care of the rest. That prompted me to suggest to Betty it was (past) time for us to find a house cleaner. She very quickly agreed.

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  9. I am finding that pride in a job well done surfacing more now that we live in a small town. Perhaps it is because the people being served are also your neighbours!! I certainly appreciate the extra effort made. The thought just occurred to me - maybe it is because I am getting older!! So pleased to be able to read your thoughts on a blog again!

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    1. I think age probably does have something to do with it. Hopefully we are more able to appreciate a job well done, realize that we are all in this together, and a feel sense of community.

      Thanks, Eileen

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