There once was a factory worker who labored in obscurity on the assembly line. Shoulder to shoulder with the other factory workers, he worked. And he worked. And he worked some more. He made widgets well enough, yet so did all the other factory workers. I am part of a team, and we all work together to get the job done, he said to himself. And then he worked some more. You’re too important to the operation, the manager told the factory worker whenever he needed some time away from the assembly line. You must take your vacation when we want you to, because you’re too important to this factory, they said. The job must get done. Don’t be sick, they told him, because it burdens the other factory workers who must get the job done. Someone has to do your job, and it must be you. Minimize your breaks, because you will be noticed if you’re gone. And as the factory worker labored in obscurity and got the job done, they left him alone. There he remained in obscurity along with all of the other factory workers. But the job got done.
One day, the factory worker got lost on his way back from break. He somehow wandered into a corner office he had never seen before. It was a place with walls and a door. There he saw a man with his head in his hands, looking forlorn. What’s wrong? Asked the factory worker. I can’t figure this out, said the man. I’m much too busy to do this. Would you do it for me? The factory worker was worried. He did not know what to do, and he worried what his manager might say. This was not his job. His job was waiting for him to be done.
The factory worker took the assignment and worked on it. He worked, and he worried. He worked some more. Finally, he finished the assignment and gave it back to the man. The man poured over it and smiled. Yes, you have finished it. This will change our entire company by streamlining our operation, the man said. You have done a great job. The factory worker responded in dismay, Sir, this is not my job. I am just a factory worker. I have another job to do. The man replied, Nonsense. I’m head of this company, and you’ve done a great job for this company. You are more than a factory worker. I will make sure the manager hears how good a job you have done. The factory worker was worried. Please sir, don’t do that. My job is still waiting to be done. I must go now. The man looked puzzled and said finally, As you wish. Thank you for your help with this job. And the factory worker returned to the assembly line and began working again. And the manager noticed.
One thought on “The factory worker in the corner office”
That is a sad story. It reminds me of that Chinese expression, "The nail that raises its head gets smashed down."