See You in the Morning
Despite remarkable hardships at times, many members make the sacrifices needed and do what it takes to get to their jobs and work hard for their employers.
By Don Mundy
In late November, Vancouver had its first snowfall of the season. It was a Thursday afternoon just before rush hour when between 20 to 30 centimetres were dumped on the city in short order.
I was in Burnaby visiting Local 501 members working at the Executive Hotel and left at about 3:30 p.m. needing to get to Surrey. This drive typically takes about 30 minutes or so, depending on traffic, but necessitates having to cross the Fraser River at some point.
Traffic was moving along slowly as I approached the Alex Fraser Bridge, but at least it was moving. That is until I passed the last exit before the bridge and came to a complete stop.
I sat there for the next six hours, moving less than a kilometre during that time. The bridge became impassable due to the many semis and buses that couldn’t make it up the steep incline. Not only was the Alex Fraser jammed, all four major crossings of the Fraser River became virtually impassable.
Due to the snow coming right at rush hour, the plows were unable to clear the crossings in time before they were jammed with vehicles unable to move forward or backward. It took me 12 hours to finally arrive home at 3:30 a.m. I now hold the record in the CLAC Langley Member Centre for the longest commute home.
Needless to say, when I finally got home, I was exhausted and drained. I was fortunate that I could work from home the next morning as I had my laptop with me.
The next day, I heard on the radio that hundreds, if not thousands, of people spent the night in their vehicles waiting for one of the river crossings to open.
The following week, I talked to many members at various work sites who had a similar story to mine. Many of them did not have the luxury of staying home the next day. As tired and drained as they were, they got up and went right back to work in the morning.
It got me to thinking about how many times I’ve heard people complaining about coworkers who seemingly take any and every excuse to miss work. I’ve heard jokes about the work ethic of the new generation and how they need to toughen up at work. It hit me as I talked to the members who showed up to work the next day after an 8-, 10-, or 12-hour commute that there are many, many more workers who will make the sacrifices needed and do what it takes to get to their jobs and work hard for their employers.
They’re tired and exhausted—they go to work. Their car breaks down—they ride the bus and go to work. They might not be feeling the best—they go to work. They have an emergency child-tending need—they figure it out and go to work.
Instead of bellyaching about employees who may or may not pull their weight at work, I’d like to take this opportunity to focus on the countless members who show up to work, day in and day out, who put in an honest day’s work, who are proud to do what they do, and who make the world around them a better place to be because of their efforts.
In the back of their minds, they’re saying, “A 12-hour commute home? Pfft—that’s nothing! I’ll see you first thing in the morning.”