Someone Cares: Trading Places

By giving their days off to newer colleagues, they started a tradition of letting them celebrate with their loved ones.

Posted in , Nov 25, 2019

An artist's rendering of a Christmas festive handwritten note that reads 'You are off on the 24th or 25th. Enjoy your family! Your supervisor'.

I worked at a municipal wastewater treatment plant for 21 years, mostly on the night shift. When I made shift leader, I noticed that the younger operators seemed down around the holidays. I realized they weren’t getting to celebrate with their kids.

Because my seniority gave me first choice for holidays, the next year I traded days with an employee who had small children. He got to see his kids open presents on Christmas morning.

Over the years, I gave up other holidays: Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July. Working overnight is difficult enough—I wanted to give my team some extra motivation.

The other shift leaders saw how much my young operators appreciated the gesture and offered to trade their holidays too. When I retired in 2001, they assured me they would continue the tradition of giving up holidays to newer colleagues, so they could establish their own family traditions.

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