Friday, October 26, 2012

America's workforce more lazy than ever

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

As we approach the first of November, I am reminded that the holiday season is just about here. How can anyone help but be reminded? We are just celebrating Halloween by the calendar, yet retailers are already beginning to inundate us with Christmas ads.

Something that I believe needs mentioned as we approach the holidays is Americans preoccupation with not working.

As most Americans continue throw their arms out of joint patting themselves on the back about how great we are, still attempting to live off of, rather than up to, the reputation and work ethic of our parents and grandparents, what they are really plotting is how to get away from, or out of, work.

My father was a self-employed carpenter. I would like to think that I learned my work ethic from him. His work day began every day at 7:30 a.m. Lunch was from noon until 12:30, not 12:31 p.m. The workday was done at 5 p.m. There were no morning or afternoon breaks. His philosophy was that you did not sit down to work, even if it was more convenient for what you were working on at the time. You should kneel. His concern was that if the person who hired him showed up and saw you sitting, they might get the idea you were not working.

More often than not, Saturday was also a work day, for at least half the day. It was the old make hay while the sun shines rule. What if the weather turned bad? What if jobs dried up? If it rained ... you still worked. It it was 100 degrees or 10 degrees below zero, you still worked. It was your job. It was your responsibility to  your family, to your customer and to yourself.

Today, between breaks, holidays and "calling off", the new phrase for skipping out on work, Americans work fewer hours than ever.

One thing that jumps out as glaringly as the Griswold family Christmas tree, is the trend toward making the day before a holiday into a holiday of its own.

Since when is Christmas eve a holiday? Since when is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving a holiday of its own?

These are only two examples of things that I observe Americans attempting to weasel into yet another day off work. Or, if not a day off, one in which they leave early.

Unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, December 24th is just another day. There is no reason in the world for anyone to have to make special plans for the day before Thanksgiving or the day before Memorial Day.

People argue that they have things to do. There are preparations to make for the holiday. You know what? I don't care.

My parents' generation, and their parents' generation, worried that their obligation to their employer might not be done. They worried that the time off would mean less money for the family. Of course today's Americans have that part figured out, they want the day off with pay.

Americans wonder why our economy is failing. There are, of course, a number of factors. Could one of the reasons possibly be that employers aren't making enough money  to do all the things employees demand, such as health care and paid vacations because the general work ethic of today's work force just doesn't work as efficiently or with the same sense of pride as our forefathers?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Support our student athletes ... or stay home and shut up

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

As we approach this second to the last weekend of the regular football season for this year, I pause to reflect on what we have seen thus far.

One of the things that I have learned, or maybe re-learned, is that not all fans “get it.” We used to see this only during the games, or maybe at the local coffee shop following the game. “Armchair quarterbacks” are full of what should have been. Win or lose, they have all the answers to a perfect season — the day after the contest.

Some of them sit in the stands during a game. They loudly proclaim to everyone within shouting distance how the play should have been run. They will complain about the officials. They will rail on the coaching staff. Sometimes, you will hear them chastise the performance or talent of a player.

Prior to the start of any Ohio High School Athletic Association contest, a narrative is read to those in attendance. It proclaims, among other things, that this is a contest between kids and that sporting behavior is expected.

I sometimes wonder what part of that can possibly be misunderstood.

Add to that the fact that the action on the field/court is a game. That’s right a game. Don’t get me wrong. I am as competitive as the next person. Many who know me might think that I am too competitive. I firmly believe that there is no such thing as a second place winner.

I believe just as firmly that there is proper behavior expected by both the winner and the loser of a contest. Winners should never gloat. Losers should hold their head up and never display poor sportsmanship.

 It is okay to be sad or angry with losing. Anger should be directed at yourself. It is not the fault of your opponent that you did not win. It is your fault for not being good enough, at least on that particular night, to win.

That should not be taken out on friends, family or your opponent. What should be done is to examine what needs to be done to improve enough to not let it happen again.

This is a lot of pressure to put on college or professional athletes. That same sort of pressure is put onto our high school athletes these days, and unfortunately, also put upon many younger athletes as well. The pressure to win has long overshadowed the need for proper sportsmanship. That is sad.

Parents and fans must be vigilant to set a proper example for their athletes. These are kids. If you are a parent, you most certainly do not want other parents or fans yelling at your kid that he/she is less than proficient at his/her chosen sport. First of all, stuff happens. Sometimes our kids go brain dead for a moment and get beaten. Sometimes they face an opponent that is just flat out a better athlete.

No matter what, parents and fans should be there to support our athletes. Win or lose, these are still our kids.

If an NFL player who is paid a million dollars a season can’t be expected to catch every pass or make a first down each time his number is called, then why do we seem to think that our kids should be able to pull it off? It’s a game. And if every play was a sure thing, all the fun would be gone anyway.

Players and their respective schools and sports need all the support they can get. It is great to see a large turnout for a game. But for those few who seem to think that part of the fun is riding the athletes backsides, just stay home. The same goes for those who lurk on social media sites to second guess our kids.

As a fan or a parent, you need to leave the coaching to the coaches.

And as my mom used to say , “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything.” The longer I live, the better her advice sounds, and in more situations.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Breaking my own campaign promise ....

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

At the beginning of this presidential election race, I made a campaign promise of my own. I vowed to keep my opinions to myself and avoid publicly sharing my views.

We are less than a month away from elections and I now feel just like a true political candidate — I am about to break my personal campaign promise.

I will begin by saying that I have not watched either of the debates. This was for a number of reasons.

First of all, I figure, why should I listen to two guys standing on a stage telling lies to each other and all of us? Second, even if one of them has a good idea, do any of us really believe he stands a chance in H-E-double toothpicks of getting that idea past a congress that is so screwed up it stands little chance of ever being fixed?

What I do find mildly amusing about the debates is that on Facebook, a nearly-real-time analysis takes place. One doesn't have to know the question or the issue being discussed. It is enough to watch my Republican/Conservative friends comment on the same points as my Democrat/Liberal friends.

On any given point, both will proclaim that "we" won. As each issue is raised, friends on both sides will post that the opponent was foolish, or shallow or lying.

As I watch all of this unfold, one thing jumps out with glaring clarity.

Since we clearly cannot get anything done in this country due primarily to all of the government bureaucracy, how can anyone believe that we need more government programs and government intervention in our lives?

We need less government. Actually, we need far less government. If a candidate wants to make sweeping changes to our country, put a stop to all of this government red tape and mandated programs.

We must stop giving handouts to other countries. We cannot be the babysitter of the world. I have said before, we need to look out for ourselves in America. No one, I mean no one, will look out for us.

Our government is in a shambles. I don't see it ever being fixed because their are too many people within our government and big-money lobbyists pulling their strings, who are only interested in one thing — themselves and their personal gain.

We are living a real-life Mr. Smith goes to Washington with real big-money corruption all around us, and I fear, no Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) to come to the rescue.

Our liberal friends want "free" health care and "free" birth control and a laundry list of other things for any American who wants them. What some don't seem to understand is that nothing is free. There is a price tag on everything.

What we need is affordable health care among thousands of other services. That will never happen as long as our government is involved.

If our government will not control itself, it is up to the citizens of our country to tell the government that we will not take any more of their crap. Maybe it is time to take a stand.

What I do hope is that as the 2012 presidential election looms over us, all Americans who are eligible will exercise your right to vote for whichever candidate you believe best to guide our ailing country.

In spite of our problems, we are still the greatest nation in the world. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

More to fast food industry than meets the eye

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

I am back. After a two-week break as we prepared for and then executed the move of our Piqua Daily Call offices to our new home on Fox Drive, I can finally, along with my co-workers, sit down and take a breath.

I would like to look at food for this week's column.

First, I believe that there is some acknowledgement due to some working people out there who rarely hear a good word.

Most of us take the fast food industry for granted. When we do make mention of the industry or the people who work in the trenches, it is usually to complain.

I am no different as I sometimes find myself looking at an order that I thought was given in simple, easy-to-understand English, yet received looking nowhere near my instructions.

Granted, the fast food industry sometimes does not attract the most dedicated members of our work force.

There is another side to that, however. I have been fortunate to get to know some of the folks whose responsibility is to manage and operate some of our local fast food restaurants.

The time, knowledge and responsibility necessary to successfully run a store is mind boggling. They are just like their counterparts in any other profession. And, I use the word "profession" quite deliberately as they are true professionals in their chosen career field.

These professionals have a wealth of knowledge about the food products that they serve. They deal with inventory, maintenance, cooking and cleaning on a daily basis. They also must deal with the occasional disgruntled customer, who like so many of us when we fail to get an order that meets our expectations, tends to treat even the management staff in a condescending and rude manner.

In addition to the same headaches that all management people face in any business, managers in the fast food industry face personnel issues seldom seen in most industries. The turnover rate of a largely high school age and young adult  staff is astounding. Add to that a generation or two of a work force that has no work ethic whatsoever and you have one of the more stressful jobs in the market.

The bottom line is that behind the counter at our fast food restaurants may be a handful of kids who are working at their first job. They may be just putting in their time. But, behind them is a core group of hard-working professionals who are dedicating their life to their chosen profession just as we do ours. They do care if our order is correct. They do care if we are happy with the service and that the room is clean.

Every one of us likes to know that the work we do is appreciated. I would venture to say that our professionals in the fast food industry get a "well done" far fewer times than any of the rest of us.
Maybe the next time you visit a local fast food restaurant, you might take a minute to thank the folks behind the counter for a job well done.

Wouldn't you like to know that the simple smile and thank you that you give might be the one positive thing that someone takes home from work to share with their own family?