Friday, September 6, 2013

A Shredder & A Legacy

This week at work, I had a special project.

It was audit week.

Accountants were in the office to do field work for our annual audit.

Scrutinizing our financials, bookkeeping & overall operation.

We've always received clean audits and good reports.

I work with dedicated.....and very sharp people.

They do a good job.

And my special project?

I've filled a four drawer file cabinet with what we call "inactive" personnel files.

They're kept in my office.

And because it's full.

It occurred to me.

I've got to purge some of the old files.

I hadn't shredded a personnel file in over 24 years.

Since I became director.


We frequently have people who leave and come back to work for us.

So, they all stayed locked up and secure.

Until this week.

And I began the process of going through A-Z.

Actually A - V (because there were no Z's.)

And shredding files of staff that have been gone from the agency.

For more than 10 years.

And there were lots and lots of files to shred.

I stacked them in my office on a table.

And each day this week,

I personally went about shredding the files.

A stack at a time.

And in the shredding.

Something happened.

I ran across a wide range of people.

Some came to work and left.


I hardly remembered or recognized their names.

They certainly didn't make an impact here one way or another.

Didn't stay long enough.

Or invest themselves.

They only came and went.


There were others.

Just a few.

That left a pretty negative legacy.

A trail of discontent.

Lack of integrity.

Or work ethic.


Of one kind or another.

I remembered many of their names.

But not.

In a good way.


There were others.

That stayed a while longer.

And did a pretty fair job.

Some I remembered.

Some I didn't.

I'm not so sure they made a lasting impact.

But they did their job.

No more.

No less.

Maybe a little indifferent.

And finally.

There were others.



Game changing people.

They made more than a difference.

They made us better.

Very rare individuals.

And so dear to me.

I could hardly stand the thought.

Of shredding their file.

And a couple I didn't.

They quietly went back into my cabinet.

And some unknown person.

Will have to dispose of it later.

Maybe, many more years down the road.

But it won't be me.

To be honest.

My shredding made a big impression on me this week.

I realized.

One day.

Someone will be holding my personnel file over a shredding machine.

And all that may remain of my work at the agency.

Will go......the very same way.

I know!

A bit of a dismal thought,

But it really struck me.

No matter the career.

Or the job.

One day.

We'll all finish up.

And what will remain?

How will we be remembered?

What difference will we have made?

There was an important truth for me.

Make a difference where you are.

Be kind.

Work hard.

Care about people.

Don't hold back.

Do the thing!

The shredder comes for all files.

But the legacy?

It remains.

And it does matter.

1 comment:

  1. I never thought shredding can be a distressing task. Shredding is truly one of the safe solutions in getting rid of piles of documents that may be unwanted or confidential but need to be disposed of quickly. But shredding the records of the employees that were either let go or have resigned is tough. Records can go, but the legacy of a great employee leaves a mark and becomes a part of a company's history. Those who did poorly, on the other hand, make a company more precise and strict when hiring.

    #Ruby @