without people, companies are nothing

My doorbell rang this morning. Before I was, you know, presentable. So, I threw on a robe and opened the door and stood outside to this poor, sweaty guy in a suit and tie. He was sweating a lot and I felt a little bad for him so I stood there and listened to his spiel. He asked how he managed to catch me at home and I told him I’m going into work at noon. Then he asked where I work and I told him. Then he asked if I like it there and I said, “well, they let me come in at noon so….”He laughed. He told me where he was from-a financial planning place, told me they’re opening a new office in the neighborhood and he was out getting to know people. He asked what kind of retirement plan I had at my current work–I told him none, but I still had a 401k from my previous job. He asked where that was and I told him. He asked if I’d liked it there. I told him I liked it for about the first 10 years. And then he said,

“So, what happened? Did it just get too corporate for you?” 

I was shocked anyone actually said these things out loud. I said, “yes!” He said he’s heard that a lot–went from a nice little place to a huge multinational company and people leave.

I said, “yes!” 

He told me how his wife was going through the same thing with her company, and it made me think.

I’m happy now at a small mom and pop business because they care about me and whether I show up or not. But, they can’t offer a retirement plan because they’re a small business. But they genuinely care about people. In the corporate world, they show they care by a paycheck and a pension, but if you get sick, “sorry. We need someone who can get the job done so we’ll have to find someone else.” You don’t get a thank you. Your paycheck is your thank you.

And I thought about this guy–out going door to door to try and make some connections. I thought about him and his wife (and likely kids), and he’s just trying to make a living. And I thought that it really is true that we live in a country that caters far too much to big companies–the bigger, the better. But the big companies don’t actually give a damn if their employees are out in suits in the heat trying to make them money so they can put food on the table. The big companies care about the bottom line. They aren’t struggling for every dollar like their employees are. They’re sitting back and watching the dollars roll in off the literal sweat on someone else’s back who’s just trying to feed a family. 

Maybe that’s the American way; maybe that’s just the way it’s always been but it seems wrong to me. Without employees, no business can survive. Why are they treated so horribly? 

This is what I’ll be trying to wrap my head around the rest of the weekend, I’m sure.

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