Doing It With Pride

Our recent, week-long family vacation in Colorado revealed many things, more of which may be shared in future musings.

A few fast insights:

– My youngest son can contrive the most crazy-making sounds and songs ever known to humankind, and then continue producing them long enough to drive his siblings to the verge of fratricide.

– When you see people in Colorado wearing t-shirts proclaiming, “Dude, I think this whole town is high,” it may be truer (in multiple ways) than one might initially suppose.

–  Given the opportunity, kids might actually enjoy visiting ancestral graves and family “historical sites.”

And, although Coloradans like to boast that their state enjoys, on average, 300 days of sunshine annually, it nevertheless CAN rain there; we managed to be present for two of the rainiest days the state has experienced recently. That meant collecting a soggy raincheck for some hoped-for outdoor activities and finding other ways to occupy ourselves–not too difficult a challenge in the Denver area, which bursts with museums, restaurants, shopping and other attractions.

On the first rainy afternoon, we took advantage of the state’s generous offer of a free, one-hour tour of the Colorado State Capitol building in downtown Denver. Our guide, a pleasant and well-spoken young woman, ably led our group up and down the marble-walled corridors while relating easily digestible facts and tidbits about Colorado history, politics, key historical figures and the building’s architecture and construction.

One point that stuck out to me was her comment that all of the brass in the capitol–handrails, posts, lamps, etc.–was hand-polished on a daily, rotational basis by two employees whose sole job was to do only that.

Indeed, all visible brass nearly sparkled, so clean and shiny it was. I examined a railing and could find not a single flawed inch of it, though it was yards long.

Those employees were not personally seen during our time there, but their work spoke for them–they were meticulous, responsible, hard-working people who clearly take immense pride in their jobs and their contributions to the overall impression that Colorado, and its state capitol building, were quality, worthwhile places to be.

I couldn’t help but think that those brass polishers, whoever they are, were equally important ambassadors for the state as its governor, and their work was as much “on display” to the public as the governor’s might frequently be.

The next day was even rainier, so we sought refuge at the factory of Hammond’s Candies in an industrial area of northern Denver. A complimentary factory tour again led me to appreciate the hard work of dedicated employees, even while our family took its leisure.

There, in full view of dozens of tourists (with many eager kids pressing tongues and noses to the glass), Hammond’s Candies workers stirred enormous vats filled with sugar, water and corn syrup, poured out hot mixtures onto gleaming stainless steel trays, manipulated 70-pound bundles of sticky ick into ribbon machines and taffy pullers, expertly twisted ropey lengths into candy canes or enticing lollipops and still managed to smile occasionally at the gaping visitors, even while working repetitively at a rapid pace.

To say it was hard to resist purchasing every item on sale in the retail area we were deposited into at the tour’s conclusion would be an understatement–and it’s no exaggeration to admit I felt like a kid in a candy store, because, well, I literally was.

Surrounded by the very lollipops, chocolates, candy canes, ribbon candies, “chicken bones” and yes, fudge, those good people had produced with their own hands on the other side of the wall made it difficult to say no to any product, and instilled a distinct desire to support the employees, and their company, with one’s purchase.

Russian actor Konstantin Stanislavsky memorably noted, “Remember: There are no small parts, only small actors.” Similarly, there are no small jobs, only people who don’t think their work matters.

And let me tell you, when brass shines and candy beckons, it couldn’t be clearer that every job worth doing is a job worth doing well.


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