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The Work And Reward
The customer is not there when the flowers he ordered to be delivered on a special birthday are sent too early without his handwritten greeting—which is still paperclipped to the order book. The florist gets on with processing the rush of early morning deliveries. It’s one of those days when she’s just too busy to care about every little detail. What the customer doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
The owner is not at the Italian restaurant on Bourke Street at 6 am when the window cleaner is training his new employee in the art of washing windows. He stands back, arms folded, observing—pointing out a smudge in the top right-hand corner of the big pane of glass. The trainee rubs it away—all the while learning about the standard he must uphold when no one is watching.
It’s a privilege to witness someone taking this much pride in what he does—work that many people might regard as menial or meaningless. It’s as if the work itself is the window cleaner’s reward. This is how we behave on our best days. We don’t make the distinction between what’s seen and unseen. We forget to make the connection between the work and some future payoff—money, attention or accolades. We simply do the best work we can for its own sake—rendering the work, ourselves and the world the better for it.
Image by Davide Gabino