I used to spend a lot of my day training young people who wanted to work in finance how to do their jobs. I liked this part of the job. When I was young, there was nobody around who particularly wanted me to succeed or fail, so nobody took time out to see me do either. I made a lot of mistakes that I didn’t want to see other people make later on. Some of these mistakes are common to early jobs, some are unique to customer service, or even to finance. Right now, with the economy falling down around our ears, any mistake that can be avoided should be.

What time is it?

I only had to actually punch a clock a couple of times throughout the years.  Even then, most of the time I just wrote my time in and out the day I turned in my time card.  I never abused it.  I have seen people who think its no big deal to come in a few minutes late here or there.  Or maybe they need to bail out a little early once in a while.  When you’ve established yourself at a company and have a strong reputation, maybe you’re right.  Maybe there is no problem, as long as it doesn’t happen very often.

I remember at one company I worked at, I was late.  Probably 15 minutes late.  I had no excuse.  I just overslept.  It was a busy day at work, so I forgot all about it until I had to turn in my time card.  I put in the correct time and turned it in.  My boss fixed my time card to reflect as if I had been there on time.  I asked her about it and she said nobody would have believed that I was late anyways, and I probably worked extra hours to cover.  I did, but the point was that nobody would have believed that I was late.  I had built my reputation to the point that people knew that I would have worked my whole shift.  It was a struggle to get people to understand that I had screwed up.

When you have a job, make sure that you are on time.  Don’t come in late, don’t think that extended lunches aren’t noticed, and never leave early without your bosses permission.  I know that many readers might think that this advice is unnecessary.  For many older people, it might be.  I’m not writing for older people.  Young people might not understand how important punctuality is.

I had a co-worker at one company who liked to go shopping at lunch.  We were close to a mall, and she had a weakness for crap on sale.  The funny thing about malls is that they are pretty dead during the day, unless there is a major holiday around, like Christmas.  This employee went Christmas shopping during her lunch hour and a half.  She frequently took long lunches, especially when I was around.  It didn’t bother me, and since I wasn’t her boss, I didn’t care about her shopping habits.  The day after she was out of balance in her cash drawer was a little different.  Her boss came in to go over her work and cash drawer while she was on lunch.  After an hour waiting, we sold her cash back to the vault, and she was terminated upon returning.  It really sucked, but she knew the possibilities were there.

Just remember, things that you think nobody notices, are noticed by people all the time.  You won’t get away for too long with screwing around with your time card.  Right now is not the time to do something that might cost your job.

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