Saying Yes

Supervisor asked us to scrub machine room floors today. Gave us brushes on broom handles and grease cutter to mix in water. I’m a custodian. This is part of the job. The rooms were slightly larger than a submarine’s hallway. We had to bend over to keep from hitting our heads on pipes.

I was not ecstatic. My scrubbing showed it. He wasn’t ecstatic. We argued about the right way to get the job done. I say machines, he says elbow grease. He asked me if I was going to do it properly. I asked him if he was going to send me home.

We went to his superior. He explained how it was his decision not to use machines in a tight space. They both explained how to scrub floors in tight spaces. I didn’t explain why I didn’t want to continue the conversation, just that I didn’t.

I went home early.

Before anyone erects statues to my defiance of management, here’s the truth:

They were right.

They have the right to determine safe working conditions. They have the right to determine the way a job is done.

They’re holding the cash. It’s why I took the job. It’s a trade. Hours of my life dedicated to tasks they outlined in a contract for a paycheck. I’m wrong, but not for saying no.

I’m wrong for saying yes.

Yes to the job. Yes to allowing others to control my time. Time is too precious to give without serious thought and commitment. My boss’s boss said it was unfair for me to work and not do the work I agreed to. If I say yes to anything I say yes to everything that follows. Also the reason I don’t have kids. If I won’t do what they require of me then I can’t say yes.

I have no guarantees to say yes to. Don’t want any. Any guarantees will always come with restrictions. The chance to fly is the chance to fall. But I can’t fly in a submarine.


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