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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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The Long Way Home

Respect and privacy complement each other. That’s why the classic door to our bathroom at home displays two signs.

Respect and privacy are fundamental to the Bohunk and me.

Whatever your gender or preference, it does not matter who uses our bathroom or which public restroom you choose. With aging comes an urgency for certain toilet functions, and if one of the two public restrooms is locked where I need to go when I need to go, I will use the other. Respectfully.

So, show some respect for the privacy of others and stop the angry tossing of political footballs about who uses what restroom.

Regarding respect, Kristie Rogers’s 2018 article in the Harvard Business Review states that workplace respect is a top priority for workers. She writes, “When you ask workers what matters to them, respect from superiors often tops the list. Yet employees report more disrespectful and uncivil behavior each year.”

That’s not good for business.

More than 80% of workers treated in an un­civil manner spend significant time focused on the bad behavior they experience. Almost half of employees reduce their efforts and dis­play disrespectful treatment toward cowork­ers, vendors, and customers.

Early in my working life, I realized how im­portant it was to respect the leaders I worked for—and it was just as vital that they respected me.

My first real job at 16 was as a busboy at a steakhouse. My boss, the matronly hostess, ex­pected perfection and wasn’t afraid to demand it. Frankly, I was scared crapless of her. Al­though stern, she never disrespected me.

The kitchen manager was the same way. Struggling to fit all five ice cream pails in the top-load freezer, I asked him to help me. “The Lord helps those who help themselves,” he said, returning to the broiler. Some might think that was disrespectful, but I felt tremendous accom­plishment when I got the freezer loaded soon after. Eventually, he made me a cook in the kitchen—a promotion that showed his respect.

Several years later, I got an advanced lesson in workplace respect when working at The Cor­nelius Company in the Halloween Capital of the World, Anoka, MN. It was my first full time job with daytime hours.

My title was Traffic Coordinator, and my boss, Dale Kranig, was the Traffic Manager. Ten years my senior, Dale was a stern taskmas­ter who taught me more about organization and management than any other boss I had. He is still the best boss I ever had.

Our department managed everything from in­bound shipments of raw materials to transport­ing and delivering finished goods to customers worldwide. Our carriers worked in a heavily regulated industry, meaning attention to detail was a priority.

But I will never forget Dale for the respect he showed me.

My desk (this was before they were called workstations) was at the entrance to Dale’s of­fice. Almost every day, a few salesmen from trucking companies, railroads, and steamship lines seeking our business walked past my desk to meet with the boss.

After a particular rep left the building one day, he told me, “That guy won’t get any busi­ness from us.”

“Why?” said I.

“He walked right by you on the way in and out without speaking to you,” Dale replied. As a good manager, he knew that I needed to be respected by vendors and others to do my job well.

Whether in the restroom or the workplace, everyone should have his/her/their dignity rec­ognized and respected.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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