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Published:February 13th, 2007 16:30 EST
There's No Vacancy

There's No Vacancy

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

A young man who applied for a job was told there were no openings.

“What about Bill?” he asked. “Didn’t he just quit?”

“He sure did,” came the reply.

“Then have you already hired his replacement?” the young man asked.


“Then I’ll fill that vacancy.”

“You don’t seem to understand,” he was told. “Bill ain’t left no vacancy.”

Though funny, the story has a serious side. We would all like to think that, like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, we would be missed by so many. We want to think that we are indispensable. Do those who really know us think so? It depends.

At work, it depends on our level of commitment. Too often you find those who are what I call L-I-F-O’s. That stands for “last in” (the door for work) and “first out.” For them, the job is just a job. They quit looking for work shortly after finding a job. And, because they feel no particular attachment to the company or the customers, were they to leave, they would hardly be missed.

On the other hand, there are those who feel a sense of mission or purpose. They are proud of the service they render and have a basic philosophy that says: When you do more than you’re paid to do, someday (somewhere) you’ll be paid more for what you do. Should they choose to take a job elsewhere, they would truly be missed.

Another application of our “vacancy principle” has to do with relationships. We all know certain people who will depart to even the sorrow of the undertaker. Others have “departed to no one’s regret” (2 Chron.21:20, New American Standard Version).

This difference brings to mind two very different people. One is a customer whose wife continued to receive her traditional bouquet of flowers, even after he had passed. The florist was just doing what the devoted husband had instructed him to do every Monday.

Such loving kindness is in stark contrast to the fellow I overheard arguing with another gentleman in the check out line. He thought that anyone who would buy his sweetheart something for Valentine’s Day, as the gentleman had done, was a dope for being manipulated by the merchants and the media. Though I realize there are many ways to express love besides what is done on the one day, the man’s attitude made me wonder if his sweetheart might hang out the “no vacancy” sign when he is gone.

BARBER-OSOPHY: How much we will be missed by our employer, our customers, our family or our friends depends largely upon our level of commitment.

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