‘All Day…all night…Angels watching over me…my Lord…’ The old Spiritual song has been rummaging around in my head. It is a good thing and fits with my philosophy of life since I was a child…that we all have a Guardian Angel. So many times I have believed that I was a goner or that destruction awaited me around the next corner of my path…when suddenly what men meant for evil…God meant for good.
October 10, 1978, is the day I began working for Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale as a Building Service Worker I…which is a Janitor. I was thrilled to have a job that could become a career and double my income and have wonderful benefits. My Pastor and Friend told me to be a friend to everyone…and I took his advice. I made it my mission to become friends with all that I encountered. Prior to my first promotion, a colleague told me that I was going to get the job as he had spoken to one of our foremen and the person told him that everyone liked…Jay. I did not develop so many friends by false friendly rhetoric or self-serving compliments…but by a genuine desire to uplift those that I interacted with and to demonstrate my respect for them. I met people on a daily basis that had different religious and political beliefs than me…and I chose not to talk about those issues. Now lest you think that I came from easy and bright circumstances…not the case. However…I did feel that I was a blessed man to be given the opportunity to work at SIUC. I was happy and possessed an air of contentment with having a position that was respected in the Southern Illinois Community…and I did not feel that anyone owed me anything.
The negative side of management was a learning process for me…and I strove to create a positive atmosphere even when dealing with terminations. None of us are perfect and we all have a plethora of motivations for what we do. We, humans, are complex and it is vital to respect the uniqueness of each person that crosses our lives. The diversity of our human family is what makes it so beautiful. The goal of making everyone your friend is a worthy assignment. Our attention is immediately focused on another person who has our best interest at heart.
Through the years I observed members of the University Community who in their effort to be perceived as professional…sacrificed their humanity. Genuine is compelling. When a person is being real with me…I am mesmerized… When I hear a canned speech…I am insulted…