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I Don’t Know How Not to Do That

I was blessed to have my Grandma Gert until I was nearly 40, and I was very close to her. She liked to tell me stories about her life growing up, and I think that is one reason why I like history. She made history personal and made me realize that headlines happen to real people.

She told me stories of things like what it was like when her younger brother was missing in action for a time after crossing the Rhine River into Germany during World War II. She also told me about skating on Lake Elizabeth in the Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side as a girl, but one thing she told me stuck in my mind all these years later. She was a kid during The Depression, and she told me that times were so dire back then that one night there was nothing for them left to eat but one hard-boiled egg for their family of four, and it was only through the kindness of their neighbor, who would bring home spoiled fruits and vegetables to them from his store that enabled them to survive. Her father lost his job, and their family lost their home, and they would never own a home again.

I never went hungry as a kid or missed a meal, but from her stories, I always knew that fortunes can change in an instant, that jobs aren’t always easy to come by and that life can be hard sometimes and not to take anything for granted. It was also my upbringing and my Catholic school education that taught me that you had an obligation to do your best whether it was in school, at home, or on the job. I was taught to give my all. I don’t know how to not do that.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there are several movements afoot that run counter to all of that. “Bare Minimum Monday” is a trend among the Tik Tok generation where workers ease into the work week, giving less of an effort on the first day of the work week as a gesture of “self-care.” Then there is the concept of “Quiet Quitting” where an employee puts no effort into their work than is absolutely necessary.

Obviously, workers with the above-mentioned attitudes have never gone hungry or been out of work. I don’t wish misfortune on anyone, but those types of attitudes are detrimental to not only society but them. You’ve got to it your all in life, or life may not give you a thing in return.

Janice Lane Palko


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