Working to Death

death 5

Working To Death

“I was about to unleash a firestorm of HR down on their %#@$ a$s!!”

I first realized that I am not immortal when I had my first major surgery. The night before the surgery the nurse was making polite conversation, you know small talk, but then I realized she wasn’t just being polite, no she was gathering intel…just in case I died during the surgery.

Since then I have seen my real life heroes work themselves to death: my grandfather, great aunt and grandmother, just to name a few. But recently another one of my heroes gave us a scare. And he works a lot, 12 to 14 hour days. I hate seeing him work so much but I was always under the impression that he did it because he had to.

Memphis is a true blue collar town, most people work for companies that don’t believe in telecommuting, off days or holidays. Just about everyone in Memphis works on the weekends and holidays. So seeing this guy go to work every day, six days a week is kinda the norm.

But this one day, he’s moving slow and doesn’t look too good. I said to him, “Are you okay?” and of course he says “Yes” but turns out he wasn’t. After going through the entire workday, not feeling well, he went to the minor emergency clinic. They sent him to the hospital to be admitted.  The family is now nervous. The hospital takes good care of him and run a battery of tests: his leg was red and swollen, he had high white blood cell counts, and his blood toxicity levels were high.

Scared does not begin to describe my emotions, “He’s too young for this!”, “I can’t see him like this” and “We shouldn’t be dealing with this for at least 20 years, what the hell?” As we wait to hear from the doctors and the nurses, the word gets out to the extended family members and they began to call and text. It was then that we learned he would be okay, it was some sort of infection caused by a combination of things but most importantly, he needs rest.

In addition to being scared, I was angry. Mad at his employer for making him work like that. Once we knew he’s going to be okay, Immediately, I go into HR mode,I will call his job and let them know he won’t be in, this is the official FMLA notice and I don’t want no shit from them or I will bring down a firestorm of HUMAN RESOURCES’ HELL on their #@$%& asses.

As I am explaining his rights and  telling him that they can no longer mandate 12 hour days, he patiently lets me finish my HR rant and then he says, “They don’t make me work like that. I do that on my own.” The what? He continues to say. “They actually tell me to go home but I just stay.”

My face dropped. I was so mad at him. That he would do this to himself, to us! I started to think about all of the days and nights, weekends and holidays that he worked like a dog and how I thought his job made him do it. I have been calling them “jerks” and overrated as a company based on the way he worked but it was all self-imposed.  A calm came over me and I realized, this had to happen and it had to happen this way for him to take it easy. It’s his moment to realize that he is not immortal – he now knows he won’t live forever.

Two weeks off work, drink more water and get some exercise, those were the doctor’s orders. No more 12 -14 hour days. So turns out, working yourself like a dog not only hurts your employer’s brand but it also affects your family. Many people are like this though, they put undue stress on themselves to outperform and outwork everyone else for no apparent reason. We love them and we watch them kill themselves.

Point here is simple, take care of yourself. Your job is supremely important, I know that, but you have to take care of yourself and your family. You’re no good to anyone dead.


  1. Michael D. Haberman

    Good post Chris. I think we have all seen people who work too hard. We have a tendency to blame the employer, but as you found out, that is not always the case.

    1. newresource (Post author)

      Precisely, I will still keep an eye on it though!

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