An Honest Day’s Work

Joseph prided himself on maintaining a forty hour work week. Many in his line of work did not, opting for the least work possible with the best return on their investment. It would be easy to do the same, to arrive only when he needed and leave immediately, but his father had been precise about such matters, so Joseph would be too.

It was a lazy man who didn’t put in his forty, his father would say. A man who didn’t understand the value of a dollar, or someone who didn’t have pride in their work. Grandad was a union man and fought to get that forty hours, and his dad dutifully maintained it with religious precision. Starched shirt and tie, out the door every day by eight-fifteen to catch the bus downtown. Joseph understood now that it wasn’t just to take care of his family, but also to take care of his soul.

Start slacking off, cutting corners, working less than the golden forty and a man becomes slothful. Thirty-eight hours was a sin against God, taking employment for granted. Lucky to have a job, so it deserves a full forty.

That’s why Joseph always set up thirty-nine hours and thirty minutes early. He didn’t need to—an hour or two would normally be sufficient—but he took pride in his work. It was because of that pride he was sought out. Joseph was a professional, and the men he worked for knew he would give the job his everything. That was his duty.

Joseph would occasionally sigh as the hours wore on and wonder about taking the easier route, but he always recoiled from these thoughts with a mental slap. That’s not how I raised you, his father would say. I thought you were better than that. I didn’t raise a slacker.

Joseph checked his watch, grimly sighed and stretched his back, then laid back down on his stomach. It was about that time.

Placing his eye to the scope, he shrugged his shoulders to loosen them up, adjusted the angle slightly, and waited for the door to open. Pull the trigger, sit up, disassemble and slip the rifle into his briefcase.

Five o’clock—time to go home.