Hard workers get their special day in the sun

There are numerous reasons I love my job.

It’s an outlet for me to pursue my love of grassroots community journalism, in a community that I adore and plan on raising my daughter in until she’s prepared to set her own course. I get the chance to work alongside the best newspaper publisher I have known in my 25 years in the business, and there have honestly never been two days in this job that are exactly alike.

But what makes it enjoyable on a completely different level is the group of people that I get to work with every single day, and share in the common goal of producing a quality local newspaper each and every week. Do we have some arguments amongst ourselves in the office? Absolutely. But I’d have to strain real hard to remember one that didn’t involve two people passionately fighting for what they felt was in the best interests of the paper, or our readers or advertisers.

But maybe more importantly, our staff is tremendous about looking out for one another. I have seen the metaphorical hat be passed around to send sympathy or get-well flowers or cards to a co-worker in need, teared up as the staff held a private baby shower for my family and watched a black cloud appear over the office at the very moment our good friend Bob Bertram left the door for the final time.

And the first time. And the second time. And the...

But I digress.

I write about this because of a story I came across the other day on the Tribune Media Wire. It was about a 19-year old-man in Alabama who works for UPS. The man, Derrick Taylor, has been working there for about a year, loading and unloading vans at the facility, according to the article. His shift begins at 4 a.m., and he has to leave early enough in the morning to walk the five miles from his home to get to work. After his shift ended, he would walk the same five miles back.

Taylor said he’s been working since he was 14 because he helps take care of his sick mother, and, hey, money gets tight when you are taking care of someone else, even if you have a good job like working for UPS. Some of his co-workers had offered him rides, but Taylor was too proud to accept. This, dear readers, is a young man assuming the responsibilities of a grown man, and you have to tip your cap.

And his co-workers did respect him and his work ethic. So much so, in fact, that they pooled together their money and gave Taylor a Jeep.

“This is a hardworking young man,” said one of his safety instructors in a video posted to Facebook. “He makes me emotional. This young man wants to work so bad, he walks to work from way out of town. This group here, we’ve got [something] for you. Everybody came together, and you don’t have to walk no more. You’ve got your own ride.”

Taylor was noticeably moved in the video, and he took a moment to hide his face when the reality settled in on him what was actually happening.

“I was overwhelmed with joy,” he told the Daily Mail. “No one had ever done anything like that for me, so it made me cry and I’m not really the type to show my emotions.”

It appears that this was well-deserved, and the fact that his co-workers thought enough of him to use their own money to buy him a Jeep (and insurance, by the way) is a testament to both them and Taylor. Well done.

Very well done.

Inspired by this story, I dug around a little bit and found another story that exemplified how co-workers can take care of one another. Though it almost physically hurt me to visit their site, I did find some gold.

Sheree Carter is an employee at a Chick-fil-A in Raleigh, N.C., and a mother of two young children. Up until recently, Carter and her children were also homeless, shuttling back and forth between shelters and temporary housing.

Just before Christmas, Carter was able to put aside enough money for a down payment and she and her children were able to move into her first apartment. Her co-workers were excited at the news that Carter got a new apartment, heard her saying that she was trying to save up money for furnishings and... well, they furnished her apartment for her family — including dishes and a dishwasher.

“I don’t even think they knew that I was homeless because I didn’t show it,” said Carter. “I’m just overwhelmed with everything.”

When Carter’s boss, Darrena McCulloh, heard Carter’s whole story, she was even more impressed.

“Just hearing her story and how hard she’s worked to provide for her family, we knew it would be the right integrity and ethics that we were looking for to join our team,” said McCulloh.

And it sounds like she has a special team over there, indeed.

I’ve always been a believer in the opinion that charity starts at home, but these stories are making me consider that it could take flight at work, as well.