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Turning Over New Leaf

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Lesser Man

janitor

I have been doing my thing lately, and as usual, burning the candle at both ends. Last night, I did decided to take a break and do something out of the ordinary – I turned on the TV. Big mistake.

As the television went through its startup routine, it locked in on a channel that was about to air a show called Undercover Boss. I had actually seen an episode or two last year, and although it wasn’t exactly Citizen Kane, it proved to be entertaining, and I did not lose any brain cells watching bimbos fighting in taverns.

Last night, that changed. The theme of the episode centered around a corporate officer for the Popeyes (without the requisite apostrophe) fast food restaurant chain who, incognito, decided to check out several franchise branches in the South under the guise of discovering how improvements could be made and exceptional employees could be identified.

In the previous episodes I viewed, exceptional employees were given everything from tens of thousands of dollars to college scholarships, cars, promotions, and down payments on homes. To me, this was a terrific concept, reminiscent of an old black and white fictional television drama known as The Millionaire, where a multi-billionaire surprised deserving folks with a tax free cool million. Popeyes showed me the modern version in which a man who humbled me in his loyalty to his company and service to his community was demeaned, in my opinion.

The undercover boss came upon a janitor who referred to the franchise as his establishment. He exuded pride while describing his daily tasks such as washing the parking lot, cleaning out garbage pails by hand, and scrubbing dirty floors and walls so customers would enter clean facilities. He even purchased all the soap products with his own funds because the company provided cleaning materials that could be harmful to children. I am not certain where they found this man, but he sang the company’s praises while performing his duties with dignity rarely seen today in a paid employee.

To add to the humility of this janitor, the back story told how he lost everything he owned in a hurricane and was taken in by a local church group. Now that he was back on his feet, he believed he owed a duty to the church to serve, so he donated his free time each week, cooking meals for the public at the church facilities.

His reward? Popeyes donated $10,000 to his church (which I’m sure is a tax write off). Whoopee doo, Popeyes. I could not help but think he was denied the usual benefits, bonuses, promotions, or raises other employees received because he was only a janitor in their corporate eyes.

A raise and a promotion was in order, and although it is seemingly not my business, the show did lure me in with the underlying promise of a happy ending.  I usually do not opine about trivial television shows, and I am insulting myself as a writer by engaging in this discussion. Yet, they could have made him a supervisor or trainer. He earned it. Instead, they have assured me I will never choke on a Popeyes chicken bone.
.

22 comments:

  1. You are right, they could have made him supervisor, then again the donation made was a write off for the company! lol... That show may show how certain employees are applauded for their above and beyond effort, but what about the other employees who also do the same but aren't shown?

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  2. Oh my what a crying shame for sure. Although for all who meet this man, he surely is without a doubt a teacher,(if one really pays attention)and he without a doubt leaves a bit of himself no matter where he goes. He can feel so very proud in that. He is a rich man in so many ways already. But I agree, and not that I am a fan of the greasy-chicken joint anyway, I now will have this story to recall, and just possibly retold when I happen to see a Popeyes. Our world needs a few more honest hard working and caring employees just like him.....and if any of us know one of these people right now where we work or go to school....a simple thank-you, or what an amazing shine on this floor would suit them pretty well indeed! I'm glad it brought you to post JJ!

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  3. Amen and very well stated. We need more people like that janitor.

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  4. KBF: You are right. An acknowledgement would be precious to so many employees.

    Karen M: We do. The work ethic certainly has deteriorated over time. I think everyone in our parents' generation had those values. Somehow, we let them slip away and now they are scarce.

    Karen S: I agree. I was very impressed. If I had a suitable business, I would hire him in a heartbeat.

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  5. Karen S: Once my daughter landed a job for which she was clearly not qualified. I bumped into her employer at a social function and she told me that she hired my daughter because she "knew she would show up." This is a sad commentary of our times.

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  6. I've never been an undercover boss, but I ran into a UPS guy last year as we were walking down the street. This guy started talking about his job with such pride and enthusiasm that I tracked down his supervisor and told him to give this guy a raise! I wonder if he got any recognition at all. I hope so.

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  7. Galen: If you went to those lengths to show your appreciation for that man's work ethic (for which I am proud of you, by the way), then you can understand why that tv show disturbed me. I have always believed that my jobs in life were what I did to earn a living, not what I am as a person. That janitor deserved respect for who he is, and I felt he did not receive it. I don't usually get so spun up, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

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  8. There is very little TV worth watching these days. That's why, in my opinion, you can't go wrong watching documentaries. Educate and stay informed.~Ames

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  9. What a sad thing to see that a company missed out on a prime opportunity to truly reward someone for a job supremely well done. I can see why this episode particularly annoyed you.
    On a regular basis I try to commend good service. I genuinely mean to do so and I feel that it is my small contribution to trying to see to it that service doesn't get worse overall.
    The last person I did this for was someone who gets a lot of this and his boss assured me that he gets regular bonuses because of what people report about him. I was so glad to hear that.

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  10. Hi JJ, good to see you and thank you fo popping by. All work and no play remember what they say ;-) Make sure you make some quality time for and yourself and your family. dee ;-)

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  11. I hope someone from a rival chain saw that programme and offered him a better job. Although, I suspect the man would not take it, out of loyalty.

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  12. 'I usually do not opine about trivial television shows, and I am insulting myself as a writer by engaging in this discussion.'

    I think many topics can be elevated by the nature of the discussion. If something gets a thinking person's wheels churning, it's a worthy thing to throw it out there and let others chew on it.

    That may be, in the end, the best thing about blogging.

    Hope you are well, friend.

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  13. I never turn on a TV anymore so your review posed an illuminating peek into what goes on inside that screen. Thank you my dear friend.

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  14. How awful! I hate hearing stories like that, when deserving, hopeful, and unassuming people get denied.
    Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  15. That dear man would have probably given that money to his church anyway; and there may be things about him that would have prevented him from becoming a supervisor that were not told for fear he would be embarrassed if people knew. Don't judge this story by its cover, JJ.

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  16. Ames: I agree!

    Jasmine: Exactly. I think they missed a perfect opportunity.

    Dee: Thanks, I try.

    Sarah: You are probably right!

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  17. Suze: Thank you. I agree that it seems to be a nice function of blogging.

    Manzi: I don't blame you.

    Miriam: That was exactly my feeling.

    Judie: Nice spin. You should work for the Obama White House. The problem I have with the show is that it was not the janitor, but the TV producers, that were putting on the presentation. They portrayed the man as a very low- level employee, with exceptional talent and loyalty, but rewarded him with very little compared to the other employees portrayed. If there were other factors for the viewing public consider, they should have presented them. Thus, the story can only be judged by what they presented.

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  18. Ouch. I think how they treated the janitor sounds kind of sad (and is some very poignant commentary on the tv show producers). I would hope that a good employee would be rewarded with recognition and encouragement rather than an assumption of where his funds should (or would) go.

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  19. Business is business and he is a businessman!
    His name wasn't Scrooge was it?

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  20. Whitesnake: He was a she.
    Bah humbug-ess!

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