Let’s just keep this between us, so please do not tell anyone I told you this story: Believe it or not, when I was in my 20s, I robbed a bank and got away with it.
Yes, I walked away scot-free, at least physically with no time served. We might be able to “rob a bank” or “get away with murder,” but no one can walk emotionally and spiritually away from a crime unless total restitution and/or reparation have been made to God and the victims.
When I was 23 years old, I had a job as a security guard for First Security Bank in Salt Lake City. From 12 a.m. to 8 a.m., my job was to patrol, secure and safeguard the bank. For the first few weeks, I did my job faithfully — until I slowly began to fall into temptation by telling myself, “Kenny, you are all alone here, and there is no one here to hold you accountable, so stop taking this job so seriously. You do not need to go up and down these 13 floors, visiting every office each and every night, so relax, take it easy, sit down, prop your feet up, read a book, and if you feel like it, a take a nap.”
If I ever felt the temptation to break the rules, it was during my midnight shift there at the bank. I slowly changed from a conscientious security guard to a guard who believed that, from time to time, I could find a safe place in the bank to take a little “cat nap” during my watch. And why not, since there wasn’t a single soul in the building, other than God and me. If my supervisor or anyone had walked in, I would have been fired on the spot, and rightly so, because what I was doing as an employee of the bank was criminal: I was stealing money from the bank that hired me to provide a full day’s service for eight hours, not seven hours and forty-five minutes or seven-and-half hours, but eight hours.
During the times when I was tempted to take a little snooze, my conscience didn’t convict me of any wrongdoing, until one night a light bulb went off in my head. I realized that I was lying, cheating and stealing from the company because I wasn’t fulfilling the contract I had signed, not only with my hand, but with my mind, heart and soul. I didn’t literally take money from the safe or till, but because of my breach of contract and poor time management, I couldn’t excuse myself that I received money I didn’t deserve or earn. In reality, I took money from the bank, which in a sense, made me a “bank robber.”
Almost everyone has made a New Year’s resolution, or resolutions. But have any of our resolutions included a desire to improve our time management? Throughout the year, are we willing to not only diet, exercise and get eight hours of sleep, but also to make sure that the company we work for gets the most out of us from our eight-hour shift?
Are we willing to always arrive to work on time, guard the company with our lives, never sleep on the job, keep our minds focused on our projects, limit our calls home, steer clear of our Facebook account, take only 30 or 60 minutes for lunch, have only two or three coffee breaks during the day, honor sick leave and vacation policies, and last but not least, clock out on time, not a minute before?
Is a contract like that even possible or reasonable? It all depends on where we work and whom we work for; we just need to make sure we are on the same page with our boss when it comes to the terms of our contract. Otherwise, and correct me if I’m wrong, you and I could be guilty of “stealing” time and money from the company, even from the bank. God forbid!
As a 23 year old in the bank, it never dawned on me initially that my poor time management and careless attitude was a breach of contract and a severe violation of the code of ethics, a breach that not only affected my relationship with the company and the supervisor, but a breach that affected my relationship with God as well, and how so?
St. Luke states, “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon (Luke 10:11-13).”
It’s probably fair to say that there is not a single one of us who can be totally committed to offer a full day’s wage (day in and day out) without wasting a little bit of time here and there; however, every one of us has the responsibility to try our best to be faithful in small matters with the contract we have in front of us so that we can be faithful in big matters, especially in the covenant we have with God. If God couldn’t trust me to safeguard the bank, how could he trust me to safeguard souls?
I recently saw a post on Facebook called, Need Not Apply: “Please do not apply if you oversleep, do not have a regular babysitter, have to get a lift to work later than your shift begins, experience flat tires every week, have to hold on to a cell phone all day, or will become an expert at your job with no need to learn or take advice after the first day. You must be able to work and talk at the same time. You must also remember to come back to work after lunch and should not expect to receive a gold star for being on time. You must have a friendly personality, a good sense of humor, be reliable and presentable.”
The moral of the story is this: Don’t be a bank robber; make time management a New Year’s resolution.
Rev. Vialpando is the priest at St. Marguerite Catholic Church in Tooele.