Nine-to-fivers will soldier us out of economic crisis

Monday, June 23, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:16 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I have never been a nine-to-five kind of person. I doubt that I could ever have worked on the same job for 35 years, bowled every Wednesday night for 10 years or attended the same church all of my life. Nevertheless, these are the people I admire tremendously for their ability to stay on course through thick and thin.

I was thinking about this last week during a conversation with friends about what it’s going to take to survive these economically hard times. As far as I’m concerned, I put my money on the nine-to-fivers. These people have the kind of discipline to soldier on when things get tough.

Undoubtedly, people like me who thrive on diversity and change will be able to create our own golden parachutes. We will find some way to transform lemons into lemonade, simply because we’re bored with them. But it will take every ounce of energy we have to keep life interesting. Most of the nine-to-fivers that I know don’t expect life to be interesting, they just want things to remain steady and reliable.

I learned early in life if you want your project or your business to succeed you would be wise to choose a nonartistic person to be in charge. On the other hand, if you are looking for excitement and adventure, you’d be better off to choose a more imaginative type.

Actually, I think these different types of individuals are born and not created by experience. I always knew that my son would not be an artistic type. As long as I can remember every time I arranged items on my son’s chest of drawers in a decorative fashion, as soon as my back was turned, he would organize them into a straight line. He has always been a straight-line kind of person.

Among my friends and acquaintances, on the occasions when liners and curvy-types have fallen in love and married, they have made either the absolute best or worst marriages I have ever encountered. I suppose while opposites may attract each other, they should take plenty of time getting to know each other before they decide to share the same premises.

But just as nine-to-fivers can usually be said to be reliable, consistent and steadfast, artistic types have their virtues as well. They usually have friends from every walk of life and tend to be adaptable and able to handle change effectively. And while they may not negotiate the troubled waters as smoothly as their opposites they will undoubtedly make it through, bouncing over hurdles, swinging on dangerously narrow ropes over rippling tides and hanging by their fingertips from the life boats.

In the workforce I’ve watched many determined employers try to change the natures of both these types. They seem to want the nine-to-fivers to relax their standards and become more easygoing with other employees. They want the artistic types to conform to doing things the way everybody else is doing them and never have their own ideas about anything. These power-hungry bosses never seem to understand that they could probably get better results if they would just allow their employees to be themselves and perform in their own individual styles.

My favorite boss was a master at determining every worker’s strong points and giving that worker the opportunity to employ them. He never failed to credit his people when they did a good job. It was an absolute pleasure to work for him.

It’s human nature, I suppose, to try to change people into what we want them to be in spite of the fact we are almost never satisfied with our creation. Most of us have difficulties changing ourselves to become the kind of people we want to be. I have been trying all my life to cultivate the virtue of patience. It is virtually impossible today for me to sit quietly and wait for anything. And I would give anything to be the kind of housekeeper that never allowed a speck of dust to settle on my table. But let’s face it, I’d rather read a book. Good housekeepers, I’ve noticed, don’t sit around all day reading.

I’m sure the things that work best in our society do so because of the diligence of nine-to-fivers. And it will probably be through their efforts that many of us make it through this economic crises. I believe the number crunchers will ultimately figure out a way to get us on solid financial ground. As fond as I am of my many artsy friends, I know their limitations. After the financial gurus get our situation back together, the artsy people can go to work prettying it up.

I don’t know about you, but the stormy weather, the disaster news and the distress people are enduring because of the cost of living is getting me down. I actually admire those that I occasionally encounter who want to talk presidential politics. I have no interest in the conversation, but it lets me know that some people think everything is as it should be.

If hope is just around the corner, we should begin to see its face sometime soon.

I’m ready, how about you?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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