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Do Your Job

The day started with darkness and the soft lullaby of “The Glory, Pt. 1” by Christon Gray under Fo Yo Soul/RCA. I had attempted to go to sleep early, but when you’re accustomed to working evenings, you can’t seem to get to sleep. Regardless, the shifts changed from 8 hours to 12 hours, as our agency mandated, to weather the Texas winter storms. I was one of the lucky ones ordered to the morning shift.

Groggily, I rose from my bed, angry about the lack of sleep. Not only could I not get to bed early, but I kept waking up throughout the night, wondering if I had missed my alarm. It also didn’t help that freezing rain poured heavily down on my metal chimney, imitating the sound of gunfire, shocking me out of my bed. I hated being late for work, and driving through the snow almost guaranteed that I would be late. Still, the anticipation of both the alarm and the storm woke me several times in the night.

Now that morning was here, I gathered up enough strength to roll out of bed and get on with my day. I cleaned myself up, though my appearance was the least of my concern. I simply had to get there. I couldn’t let myself be one of the ones that called in. I couldn’t find it in me to do so, even with snowfall everywhere in the city that wasn’t built to handle sleet.

This determination was backed by a confidence I had in God. He had covered me through far more treacherous things. It’s not like Northern America wasn’t driving through ice and snow every year. I had no reason to believe I was not capable of accomplishing the same feat. All I had to do was drive slow, like I was listening to Ludacris[1] or Big K.R.I.T.[2].

Another reason I was determined to drive through this weather is because of scriptures I’ve read in the Bible. Colossians 3:22-24, Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 6:27-36, and Matthew 7:12[3] are verses that come to mind. Call me legalistic, which I’ve been called before, but calling in without first trying to see if I could make it seemed lazy and felt like lying. Leaving people to work longer shifts that I, myself, wouldn’t want to be stuck working seemed selfish, especially if it turned out I could’ve made it to work.

I was raised to work hard and be considerate of others. I was raised to be a man of my word and show honor to the people who bless me. I was taught that who I am cannot be defined by how others treat me. I was taught to go the extra mile, as with the Good Samaritan[4].

I signed up for a job that is labeled “First Responder” and “Essential”, and though my job does not require me to be in the elements or place myself in danger for other people, it did require me to show up for work regardless of the conditions outside. If I could make it to work, then I needed to go. Thus, I grabbed my jacket and headed for the door.

The apartment was cold, but not a regular cold that I could enjoy. It was cold like the heater was at war with the frost outside, and it was losing. Still, I loved Texas winters, so I was excited to see if I could withstand below freezing temperatures.

As I headed to the front door, I fully expected to open the door and be overwhelmed by the cold. Part of me thought I should layer up, but my longest trip in the cold would be from the parking lot to the building, and that just wasn’t a long enough walk for me to consider it. Soon as I walked into the building, I knew I’d have to remove most of the added layers so that I would not begin to sweat. And so, my outfit remained the normal wear that I worked in even in the summer.

After tying my shoes, I reached up to the door knob. The cold had enveloped it. I knew it was going to cost more than a few shivers to get the heater in my car working. I twisted the knob, almost feeling it jerk from the pressure. It did not seem to want to be awake either.

I swung the door open and felt the first breeze of a true winter. While I expected my body to shiver immediately, it merely acknowledged the temperature change and waited. I pressed into the elements.

Everything was covered in white. It was a sight Houston rarely got to see in life. The last time I remembered seeing snow, sleet, or whatever one-inch snow is called, was too many years ago for me to remember, and what I remembered certainly didn’t cover everything in white. Last time, it covered a few things in white and was melted by 9 o’clock.

Marveled by the white Christmas nearly two months late, I listened as I heard the ground crunching beneath my feet. It was truly cold, and I was either breaking ice or walking through the snow. It was on the grass, the concrete, the bushes, the trees, and the roofs. It was on the balconies, the cars, and the fences. There was not a place I could look that didn’t exude white, black, or yellow (house lights).

As much as I looked at my surroundings with glee, I noticed the temperature was quickly seeping into my fabrics. I avoided the concrete as much as I could so that I wouldn’t slip and fall, and walked on the grass. I wondered if each step was the breaking of a stem. It was interesting, yet scary, that things could get so cold that the very interaction with them sounded like destruction.

There were warnings of icy roads. I stepped onto the concrete and expected the snow to treat my balance like rollerblades do. When my feet sank into the snow, I felt relieved. It was not icy, per se, but more so like gravel and dirt. My shoes gripped the snow with just enough force to push one step ahead of the other. In no time, I was at my car.

I was delighted to see that the freeze did not kill my battery. I went to open the door and heard a snap followed by a crack. I paused. I looked at the edges of my door and wondered if part of it had frozen together. I couldn’t see any damage, so I opened the door fully, sat inside, and turned the car on.

The roar of the engine excited me. I would soon be traversing my first partial tundra. I wondered if the car could handle a new road condition. In the meantime, I had to figure out how to get rid of the block of ice that covered every window on my car.

I remembered I stored football cones in my trunk. I kept them in there in case one day someone wanted to play football. I’d already have the cones and cleats ready. The ice wasn’t so solidified that I couldn’t scrap it off. So, I tried to open my trunk and get them. To my surprise, the lock popped, but the trunk did not.

I exited my vehicle laughing. Of course, it had frozen. I went to open it, but it did not budge. Now, the ice on the trunk was not a thick layer. I could scrap it off with my fingernail, so I knew it wouldn’t take much strength to detach it from the car. I gripped the trunk solidly and rocked it up and down. After two rocks, it broke through the ice and opened.

I took the football cone out of the trunk and started scraping ice off of my car at every part I needed to see through. The ice easily pierced my gloves as I scraped it from my car. It was like digging through a slushy barehanded. My gloves did not hold heat very well. Oftentimes, I would have to get back in the car and heat my hands by the heater to get back comfortable. You know you’ve held your hands in the cold for too long when they start to hurt from simply existing.

After a few snaps, a few cracks, and a few pops, the car was ready to be driven. The engine was hot, the windows were clear enough, and the tires were ready to roll. I took off from my spot, not pressing the acceleration, and being very attentive to every slight movement in the vehicle.

I learned very earlier that I could not turn my wheels. I had visited my friend just before the storm hit (because gumbo), and all of the slush from the previous night clumped up against the tire protector and had frozen in place. All of my tires had some size of ice between them and the body. It was no big deal, because I was going to take wide, slow turns anyway.

I drove into the main street. There was not a car in sight. I had driven over speed bumps, dips, and spots that flooded easily in the complex, and was getting confident. My speed increased. Already, places had lost power from the intensity of the freezing. Houston wasn’t made for winters. How could a city that averages 50 degree winters ever feel the need to prepare for 18 degrees? Still, I had to get to work.

I already knew most of the people I was supposed to be working with were not going to show. They were the type of people to not even try. Most would’ve seen all of the white on the canvas and instantly pulled out their phone to call in. Most would’ve seen the reports of ice on the roads and never bothered to try to come in. Some awoke without power, unlocked their phones, and called in. Some would call them the smart ones, and I can respect that view. However, as I pulled into the parking lot at my job, I felt otherwise.

My drive was not difficult, but it was slow. I averaged 20mphs. I did not slide often. In fact, the only time I did truly slide was when I was pulling up on an officer, who turned on his emergency lights and started backing towards me. Wanting to get out of his way, I tried to quickly slow down. Even the slightest added pressure to the brake caused my tires to slide and dig into the ice to try and find the ground and stop. The rest of the drive, even the highway, was smooth. I never spun out nor did I fishtail.

Just as I expected, I made it to work. Imagine my surprise to see the power in our own building had gone out, and that we were working on generator power alone. This storm was either more powerful than I thought, or we, as a city, were not as prepared as we should’ve been. Still, seeing such large facilities reduced to every other light being available was a bit scary.

I looked into my office and saw over twenty people just standing there waiting. Some had resigned themselves to no one coming in, and some were still hoping on a prayer. If you could’ve seen the relief in their eyes as I walked through the front door. Even from the lobby, I could hear a commotion going on. Some were happy.

I unlocked the door to the office and walked in. Immediately, a handful of people started applauding me for showing up. The man I was coming in to replace was more than happy. After all, they had just finished a 12-hr shift where half of the shift was pure boredom due to the power going out halfway through.

For some, my arrival meant an opportunity to get home. If I had made it through the storm, perhaps they could’ve too. I gave them hope. It wasn’t just about not having to continue working. Some of these people had family they needed to go check on. Some of these people ended up having pipes burst in their homes from the freezing. Some of these people had pets and children they needed to know were alright. Sometimes, it’s not about work. Sometimes, it’s about the big picture.

When you agree to work for a company, you should be agreeing to provide your best effort on a consistent basis for as long as you both agree to continue working for each other. Far too often, I have seen laziness. Far too often, I have seen an unwillingness to better one’s performance. Far too often, I have seen people be selfish with their choices.

I have worked with many types of people in my short 15 years of employment. I have worked with the lazy, the arrogant, the careless, the strict, the micromanaging, the tardy, the professional, the unprofessional, the know-it-alls, the know-nothings, the friendly, the mean, the smart, the dumb, and everyone on every spectrum. I can tell you that only those who have exhibited the character of Christ in their work have I taken seriously, and no, not all of these people were Christians. Some Christians were foul with their work ethic and disrespectful. The ones I praise exude the character of Christ, some without even knowing who Jesus Christ is.

It is not to say that I have been the best employee. I haven’t. I have been lazy. I have been selfish. I have been unprofessional. I have not always been at my best. However, I have still consistently been one you can rely on. I have always been considered one of the best employees. I can’t fathom being a Christian, representing Christ, who is trying to save the world from the Lake of Fire, and representing Him poorly, causing people to choose false gods, sin, and death. I refuse to let myself become a deterrent.

It’s not to say that I am a people pleaser. There are plenty of people who would consider my actions as a deterrent. I learned a long time ago that there is no one-way-fits-all approach to evangelism. I hope that I have been a pleasant experience to most, but I am no fool in thinking I was pleasant to all. I didn’t like some people, and that was shown in how I treated them. God, please forgive me.

When I walked into that door, after driving through the storm, I had every name and face in my mind that wouldn’t show up that day. I knew it would be these people because they were selfish people. It didn’t matter if people had kids to go check on. It didn’t matter that half the people on the shift never worked overnight and were struggling to stay awake. It didn’t matter if they could make it to work or not. They weren’t going to even try to come in, in my mind, which could’ve been false, but I doubted it. My assumptions were confirmed when 25% of my shift showed up by nine o’clock, three hours into our shift. We still had a job to do with a quarter of the manpower. Luckily, our leader was generous in letting the others still go home.

That week, I worked 56 hours, which is standard for some, so I’m no bragging. I had driven to and from work throughout, and had to work several different desks since others didn’t want to come in until the sun returned. I don’t blame them, but I have a hard time respecting them.

To hear them say, “I wasn’t going to risk my life for this job,” rubbed me the wrong way, because my drive into town didn’t feel like a risk. All you had to do was drive slow. Northerners drive in this every year. There’s enough videos to teach anyone how to do it, I’m sure. But they weren’t the type of people to care enough to try. They were the type of people to say, “Well, glad it wasn’t me who had to stay at work all that time,” with no guilt, as they returned after the disaster was over to ask about disaster pay.

If it’s not clear, the effort you put in says something about your character. It’s not about what the company will do for you. If you don’t like what they will and won’t do, find another job. What matters to me is how you behave where you are. I have always tried to give my very best, and most people I’ve worked with will tell you I was a good worker. As I said, I am not without mistakes, but no one can ever say I didn’t try to put my best foot forward consistently, even at the jobs I hated the most.

How many people do you think can say that of you? How many people find you more so reliable than a nuisance? When’s the last time you tried to step your game up? When’s the last time you stopped trying to receive more and tried to give more? When’s the last time you cared about someone else you’ve worked with?

You signed a contract. For the most part, no one made you get the job, and no one is requiring you to stay. You always have a choice. If you don’t like where you are, move. If you don’t like how they do things, get to where you can make changes. Do your job. God doesn’t allow you to be somewhere without purpose. Find your purpose. Is it a lesson to learn or an atmosphere to change?

“To whom much is given, much is required,” Luke 12:48[5]. “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much,” Luke 16:10[6]. I ask you, what kind of worker have you been? What kind of representative have you made of yourself? Are you the joke of an employee, who everyone expects little of, or are you the one they turn to get things done? Which one do you think God is pleased with? This has nothing to do with the company you work for. What do you think God thinks about the work you do? Are you brave enough to ask Him about it?

I do not tell of my travels through the storm to show you how bad of a man I am. I do not tell you this to brag about my driving skills or dedication. I told you that story to show you my heart. My mind was on the energy of my coworkers. My mind was on making sure people could go home themselves, as I had gone home. My heart was for others rather than myself. That’s why I took the risk and went in.

When you go to work, where is your heart? Are you there to get money and leave, or are you there to impact someone’s life? Where did Jesus go that He remained useless and without purpose? Where did He go and not help the people around Him? Where did God put in work and everyone took Him as a joke? It doesn’t matter how mundane the job is, how little they pay, how evil your bosses are, or how much of the workload you are carrying by yourself. God is looking to bless those who bless others. If you don’t like your job, or the workload, quit.

“Do Your Job” is about a heart check. So many are unfulfilled because they’ve stayed too long or have gotten complacent. You’ve stopped challenging yourself and you’ve stopped caring about the people around you, which is a dead space to be in. Wake up! Return to life! Go live! Don’t let a job consume you, but also, don’t let you consume you either. Do what you signed up to do with excellence, and use the pay you receive to get where you want to be. Keep your word. There are no excuses.

Even now, as I am writing this piece, I’m in the middle of a 16-hour shift, having stayed for various reasons some would find not valid. I hate 16-hour shifts as much as the next person, but this is what I signed up for. I said I would be available on certain days should they need the assistance at night.

Do I complain? I sure do. I’m not happy about staying up past bedtime. But am I going to be lackadaisical with my work? No. Excellence should continue no matter how much I don’t like the situation. At the end of the day, I do not want the fault of a poor job is being done to fall to me. I do not want the title of the worst worker, even when many would find it justifiable, to be the Christian man. I refuse to do God like that. It is not about pride, fame, or recognition from men. It is about respect for God and myself.

I’m going to do my best to show honor to God before I ever care about any man or woman. I will put God even before myself. He asked me to do my job with excellence, to be a good steward of the gifts He has given me, and to work as unto to Him. I ask again, when you go to work, where is your heart? Are you sure that’s where God wants your heart to be? I think it’s safe to say we are all due for another heart check in our workmanship. Find where God is, and go.

With love, respect, and encouragement,

Dario Augustus

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