Earlier that week I found out that my 84-year-old grandpa was hospitalized and his condition was deteriorating. I told my boss and asked for some time to go see my grandpa. My boss agreed, so I made a 5-hour journey to my grandparents’ house.
The first night my boss kept giving me time-sensitive assignments, so I couldn’t even make it to the hospital during visiting hours the day after.
Until 3 a.m., I was still working frantically.
That second night I decided to work up the courage to ask my boss for an extension, so that I could actually have a few hours to see my grandpa in the hospital.
In my four years of working for this boss, I had never asked for an extension.
It didn’t matter if I had to work 20 hours on my birthday while on vacation and miss my own birthday dinner (sadly, true story!).
It didn’t matter if I had to pull two all-nighters in a row and felt like my body was shutting down.
I just never asked.
The culture of these law firms is all about how hard you can work. Overworking is glamorized and it’s like this badge of honor when you say that you had to pull an all-nighter at work. We all had extra clothes in the office for those all-nighters. And if you don’t bill enough hours, it’s basically the unspoken rule that you’ll get fired.
But that time was different. I needed to spend time with my grandpa. So I worked up the courage to press “SEND” on an email where I explained the situation and asked my boss for an extension.
I remember pacing back and forth in that tiny room in my grandparents’ house, being so nervous.
About 20 mins later (that, until now, was probably the longest 20 minutes in my life), he called me.
“No, I can’t give you that”.
Being too emotional, I kept trying to reason with him why I needed to go spend time with my grandpa. He then responded to my pleas with 10 words, the 10 words that changed my life.
“What do you think we pay you so much for?”
Feeling hit very hard and defeated, I hung up and worked as instructed.
I needed to head back to the office the following day.
Four days after, my grandpa passed away.
I missed out on some of the last precious hours I could have spent with him and it’s really hard living with that regret.
Those 10 words taught me everything I need to know about money. They made me realize that to that law firm they would always feel like they owned every hour of my time because of what they paid me and with any job you’re only as good as the number of hours you can give to the company.
It’s active income, you’re trading your time for money and if you stop working the money stops coming in.