You simply can’t make this stuff up. I recently spoke at a large conference. I was to go on stage at 10:15 a.m. The driver delivered me to the event center at 9:45, at which time I was greeted by a group of very nice ladies who organized the event. They took me to a side room to put my bag down and prepare for the presentation.

The room was fairly large, but it was empty except for one circular table in the middle of the room and one rectangular table against the back wall. There were several chairs around the circular table and a table cloth on the rectangular table that draped to the ground.

The ladies and I went over the slides to make sure we had the right version. We discussed the mechanics of getting onto the stage etc. We had been in the room for at least ten minutes when two other ladies entered the room and said they needed the rectangular table. They bought books for all of their attendees, so they wanted me to sign them after my presentation. They would use the rectangular table as a signing table.

A lady went to each end of the table and lifted it slightly. As they began to move it slowly away from the wall, hair and then eyes were revealed. Being startled, one of the ladies squealed. Sitting on the floor, under the table, HIDING!, was one of the convention center workers. She had been sound asleep until they moved the table. The ladies moved the table completely out away from the wall and there she sat.

No one knew quite what to say, so I looked over at the lady and said, “Needed you a little snappy nap I see.”

She sheepishly smiled and rose to her feet. “Off you go. Back in the game refreshed.”

One of the ladies from the company said, “Can you believe that?”

I told her it happens in most companies every day. Some people go the bathroom to sleep, others do it in their cubicle. But, is it the audacity to sleep on the job that shocks us most, or the fact that she was avoiding work during a busy event?

On the flight home, I flew United for the first time in a long while. My flight attendant was on her mobile phone most of the trip, and I was sitting in first class! I took her picture with the intent of reporting on her performance. I’ll never fly with them again. She sat in the jump seat with her head against the wall staring at her phone for over 30 minutes of the 95 minute flight. Is that any different than sleeping? The end result was the same – the customer was neglected, and in their case, they lost future business.

Cell phones kill productivity in the workplace, yet when you remove them morale plummets. In the Army, if you ban them from field training exercises you’ll receive IG complaints. The sad truth is that the senior officers will allow the investigations to go forward. Sleeping on the job or being constantly distracted, either way, productivity is negatively effected.

I once wrote an article for my warrant officers in which I told them – always be to work on time, always shine your boots, and when you are finished with your work see if your buddy needs a helping hand. “Do these things,” I told them, and you will be successful. Seventy-five percent of your peers will take themselves out of the equation by not doing them.

Today, I would offer, set the phone aside. Return to the age old practice of giving an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage and you will be successful. You will be the minority.

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