The Long Way Home 3.29.24

Respect and privacy complement each other. That’s why the classic door to our bathroom at home displays two signs.

Respect and privacy are fundamental to the Bohunk and me. 

Whatever your gender or preference, it does not matter who uses our bathroom or which public restroom you choose. With aging comes an urgency for certain toilet functions, and if one of the two public restrooms is locked where I need to go when I need to go, I will use the other. Respectfully.

So, show some respect for the privacy of others and stop the angry tossing of political footballs about who uses what restroom.

Regarding respect, Kristie Rogers's 2018 article in the Harvard Business Review states that workplace respect is a top priority for workers. She writes, “When you ask workers what matters to them, respect from superiors often tops the list. Yet employees report more disrespectful and uncivil behavior each year.”

That’s not good for business.

More than 80% of workers treated in an uncivil manner spend significant time focused on the bad behavior they experience. Almost half of employees reduce their efforts and display disrespectful treatment toward coworkers, vendors, and customers. 

Early in my working life, I realized how important it was to respect the leaders I worked for—and it was just as vital that they respected me.

My first real job at 16 was as a busboy at a steakhouse. My boss, the matronly hostess, expected perfection and wasn’t afraid to demand it. Frankly, I was scared crapless of her. Although stern, she never disrespected me.

The kitchen manager was the same way. Struggling to fit all five ice cream pails in the top-load freezer, I asked him to help me. “The lord helps those who help themselves,” he said, returning to the broiler. Some might think that was disrespectful, but I felt tremendous accomplishment when I got the freezer loaded soon after. Eventually, he made me a cook in the kitchen—a promotion that showed his respect.

Several years later, I got an advanced lesson in workplace respect when working at The Cornelius Company in the Halloween Capital of the World, Anoka, MN. It was my first full time job with daytime hours. 

My title was Traffic Coordinator, and my boss, Dale Kranig, was the Traffic Manager. Ten years my senior, Dale was a stern taskmaster who taught me more about organization and management than any other boss I had. He is still the best boss I ever had.

Our department managed everything from inbound shipments of raw materials to transporting and delivering finished goods to customers worldwide. Our carriers worked in a heavily regulated industry, meaning attention to detail was a priority.

But I will never forget Dale for the respect he showed me. 

My desk (this was before they were called workstations) was at the entrance to Dale’s office. Almost every day, a few salesmen from trucking companies, railroads, and steamship lines seeking our business walked past my desk to meet with the boss. 

After a particular rep left the building one day, he told me, “That guy won’t get any business from us.” 

“Why?” said I.

“He walked right by you on the way in and out without speaking to you,” Dale replied. As a good manager, he knew that I needed to be respected by vendors and others to do my job well.

Whether in the restroom or the workplace, everyone should have his/her/their dignity recognized and respected.