Did you know that the average employee "steals" approximately 4.5 hours per week from his employer - or nearly six full workweeks per year? I'm told that this adds up to thousands of dollars per year.
Different forms of time theft include:
* Late arrival or early departureTo combat this, many companies are "going on the defensive". I understand some companies (like the place where I bring my car to be serviced) have blocked FaceBook. Some are actually collecting cell phones at the beginning of the shift so employees can't call or text or send private emails.
* Taking long lunch hours and breaks
* Requesting paid sick days for inappropriate reasons
* Slowing down the work pace to create overtime
* Excessive socializing and personal telephone calls
* Handling personal business while at work
* Using company time and facilities to operate another business.
Others are installing biometric technology for their staff - professional and non. Biometric technology uses fingerprint recognition. The employee is to swipe their index finger on a "key pad" so another employee can't sign or "punch" in their time card.
This is happening in hospitals and nursing homes, in discount stores and supermarkets, in police and fire stations and schools. It includes blue collar as well as professional staff.
Clearly, I live in another universe. I live in places where I worked a minimum of 50 hours per week - more often 60. If a parishioner wanted to go to lunch and it took two hours, then, well, it took two hours. It was work.
If I needed to spend an hour walking the streets or along a path in the woods to clear my head before talking to the next parishioner or to get my head wrapped around the gospel I was going to preach that Sunday, then that's what I did. It was work.
"Stealing time" is a concept so foreign to me as to make me shake my head in wonder. Then again, I work with a different construct of time, one that is both linear as well as eternal. My job is to help people use the "gift" of time in this life to prepare them for life in the next.
If "corporations are people" the way the Supreme Court has decreed, I wonder what we are saying about the way "those people" are treating the people who make them human?
Which all causes me to wonder about the image of God some of these employers must have. Do they really think that God is going to greet them at the Pearly Gates and say, "Well done! You saved so many people from 'stealing time' that you now get all the time in the world"?
Look, I understand. It's about productivity. Some people will take advantage of any given situation and take what is not theirs.
I wonder if some of these employers have heard the Gospel story of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). You know, the one where everyone gets paid the same whether they started work at dawn or began just before dusk?
Jesus is the original "time bandit" - stealing away our rigid concepts of time and opening our minds and hearts and souls to a new way of thinking about our time on earth and Life Eternal.
If that makes me a sinner, well, I suppose I'll sin boldly - and, love more boldly still.
While I still have the freedom to make that choice for myself.