Monday, May 31, 2010

Work v. Family - Who Wins?

I don't know when I learned to read, but I've always loved reading as far back as I can remember. I rarely have time to finish a book these days, but I do enjoy reading magazines. My favorite magazines are Fitness, Car & Driver, Playboy, Cooking Light, Cooks Illustrated, and any magazine about parenting. I guess you could say that I have unusual taste in reading materials.

I feel like Car & Driver has been missing something vital since the departures of Patrick Bedard and Csaba Csere. Bedard's Libertarian-leaning articles were always my personal favorites and I thought his point of view was quite refreshing. I can't figure out why he left the magazine after more than four decades, but I guess it was time for him to move on. In my opinion, Csere did a great job as the Editor, but he did come across as rather arrogant about the magazine's obnoxious redesign a few years ago.

I'm still warming up to the new Editor (and I think it's telling that I can't remember his name), but the magazine layout is more pleasing to my eyes. I don't know why David E. Davis returned and I just don't care for his style, but what the heck do I know about running automotive magazines? All I have to say is thank goodness that John Phillips hasn't gone anywhere or I may have stopped reading C & D altogether.

The current issue of Car & Driver has an interview with Ron Gettelfinger. Gettelfinger has been the president of the United Auto Workers (UAW) for the last eight years and he's retiring in June. I don't do much to hide my dislike of unions, but this post isn't going to become a screed against those parasitic organizations.

Instead, I think I'll share the last answer of the interview. He was asked what he might have done differently. The Interviewer didn't specify whether he meant personally or professionally. I was struck by Gettelfinger's response. He said, "One thing, I look at my family and the amount of time I've been away and the sacrifices they have had to make in order for me to be able to do my job. I regret that. If I could do it over again, I would have tried to find a better way to balance my family and the demands of the job." His answer continued for a couple more sentences, but that is the main point.

Ron Gettelfinger is 65-years old. He may be a union man, but he comes across as a perfectly nice individual. He was elected to two terms as president of the UAW - the pinnacle of success for his industry. But, upon being asked what he'd do differently, he expressed regret that his family was shorted by his career.

I wonder how many professionals have the same regrets?

I worry about the regrets I will have once my own son is grown. I'm very glad that I can stay home with him now, but one day I do expect that I'll return to work. At that point I realize that it will be easy, tempting even, to work harder to buy more "things" to give him. But he doesn't want things. He wants my time and attention.

I hope I don't look back on my life and wish that I spent less time at work and more time with my family. I hope that in the battle between work and family, I hope that my family wins.

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