Paperwork: Try saying this more often: ‘Thank you for what you do’

“Thank you.”

That’s just me, talking to you. My sincere gratitude for what you do – whatever your job.

Thanks for all you give – or gave – to your job.

I need to say that ... because of a comment a friend tossed out a few months ago.

“I work to live. Not live to work,” she said.

I’ve heard it before, but this time it pushed me into thinking about what it means. It’s kind of a philosophy of life for many. We all must find a way to deal with the world of work.

Look at how we view our jobs. I think many treat “working for living” as a necessary evil.

“Get a job!” is the banner cry we hear as early as our teen years. Because without a job, how can you survive?

For many the job is that train you jumped on long ago and could never jump off. Maybe now it’s tracking fast to retirement. You endure it because you must. Or so it seems.

We shrug it off with quips: “Hey, don’t work too hard.” Or the tired joke, “Are you working hard or hardly working?”

But TGIF! Right? Love those weekends. Like the extended holiday that just rolled by.

Labor Day. The holiday set aside to celebrate the accomplishments of organized labor. Or just to party out the final days of summer.

Also a good time for me to say my thank-yous. Especially to those who summarize their work week with, “Hey, it’s a job.”

Well, it’s more than just a job. Many – if not all of us – need to be reminded now and then of the importance of what we do. Whatever we do.

What people are paid for what they do is another story, another day. But I believe it’s wrong to measure the importance of what you do by how much you are paid. I say this to worker bees and to those of us who rely on you.

And I endorse those wise words likely from someone in your family: “If you’re going to do a job, then do it right.”

It comes down to a couple things: pride and purpose.

Whatever your job, it does have purpose. It’s easy to be motivated by how the boss will react. But the real mission is tied to those you’re really working for.

So be proud of whatever you do. You are part of a vital connection in your community. What you provide is needed. It’s important.

Serving burgers might not seem life-changing but there’s a reason long lines form at lunchtime.

Yes, many take you for granted. Until it’s not there.

We can see this now. Signs everywhere in store fronts begging: “We are hiring.” They can’t find help.

That’s another reason I need to say thanks – and mean it – to those who are there.

I do understand those who do not live just to work. But to all those who show up to a job and care about what they do, I give thanks.

Thanks … for making it easier for others to live.

• Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Times in Ottawa, was also a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet in the 1970s. His Paperwork email is Or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.