Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Primeval Sin

On my flight back to Calgary early Sunday morning I sat beside a businessman who was flying in to to see his sales rep in the city. As we landed he said "My salesman will be here to pick me up".

Since it was 1:30 am and there were plenty of taxis at the curb, I thought that was a little over the top on the salesman's part and commented "Wow, that's dedication".

"Well, he knows what to do to keep his job in a recession."

My neighbour must have read my mind, because after a pause he continued in an attempt to justify himself: "In these economic times things get a little more primeval."

I'm not sure what the man meant by "primeval" but in the context I gathered he was describing a Darwinian order of relationships based on raw power: dog eat dog, survival of the fittest, etc. In other words, he was pulling his employee out of bed at an ungodly hour rather than pay a $25 cab fare - just because he could do so.

I could only shake my head at how foolish and shortsighted this fellow was. Did he really think that his employee could not make him pay for this in some other, more significant way? Many employers really do not understand how often their people go the second mile for them unasked, and how poorly the business can operate when they stop doing so. And they forget that grinding the peons will only make the good ones flee at the first opportunity. But sin is like that. It's not only wrong in itself, but it's self-defeating as well.

I retrieved my luggage and walked outside to catch a taxi. I was going to stay at my son and daughter-in-law's for the night, but since I could get my own ride I didn't wish to disturb their sleep.


  1. Okay, I just read this to my husband and he accused you of reading his mail. Seriously, they've had meetings at his place of employment where they've basically told them all the cuts they're going to make, and how bad it's all going to be, and how they'd better not complain because they're lucky to have jobs.

    The recession has revealed the Draconian natures of many employers. And as you said, they better hope the recession holds out, because the workers will not forget this.

  2. Well, Laurie, I wish you and your husband the best.

    To be fair, many employers are in survival mode right now. We ourselves had to lay off 20% of our work force before Christmas. But it seems to me that some companies are just using the circumstances to keep their people under the gun.

    We lay off when we have to, but we do try to treat fairly those we keep, and show that we value them. We gave all our employees their annual raise on November 1 as per tradition, even though we knew we were heading into layoffs.

  3. Everyone knows times are tough, but that's no excuse to adopt a slaveholder mentality. You can rest assured that your employees who were treated with dignity through all this will not forget it either. I've heard stories of employers agonizing and doing everything they can, so that the employees know how much they care. And I've heard plenty of the other kind, where they respond with hardened hearts and heartless practices.

    May God bless you and your place of business during these difficult times.