The pride and joy of the 35-year service certificate

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When’s your workaversary? Do you know how long it’s been since you entered the grown-ups’ world of work for good?

I have a ridiculous memory for dates. I realised the other day that today (Saturday 30 August 2014) marks my 20-year workaversary (if we’re comfortable with using a term like that). It’s exactly 20 years to the day since I began my first post-university job. This role involved using a ruler and pencil to measure and assess the quantity and quality of coverage received by specific companies in the newspapers of the day. No, really.

An occasion like that gives me pause to look back on the ups and downs of two whole decades spent full-time in the world of work.

Serendipitously, last night I saw something that put it all in perspective. I watched the first episode of BBC’s Hotel India series (UK types can watch it here). This is a behind-the-scenes (but perhaps not 100% warts-and-all) look at the workings of India’s gargantuan and luxurious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

It included a beautiful scene, which fair brought a tear to my eye. One of the employees, Mr Chaskar (who is depicted in profile at the top of this post, in a screengrab from that first episode), looked back on his 42 years working at the hotel.

This is a gentleman who has found his calling in life. Mr Chaskar explained how – no matter how tired or how stressed he might be – he arrives at work each morning beaming with joy and ready to serve. He returns home in the evening, beaming with joy and ready to be there for his family (believing – quite correctly it seemed from the family dinner they depicted – that such positivity would help create and maintain a happy home life).

The bit that really got me was when he went through his scrapbook of his employment at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. He still had the original 1972 job ad for his first post there. He also showed us, with quite palpable pride and joy, a certificate he received in 2007 from his higher-ups at the hotel, commemorating his 35th workaversary. This wasn’t just a shiny piece of paper to him. This was confirmation that he is where he was always meant to be, that he has found his calling in life. Seeing someone take such joy and such pride in their work is truly lovely.

It’s important to take stock every now and then. And if you can truly say you’re even half as happy in your work as Mr Chaskar, you are very, very lucky indeed.

How about you? Do you know your own workaversary? What was your first job? What is your most abiding or important memory or moment in your working life so far? I’d love to know.

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