Some of my: Inventions | Magazine interviews | Sheds | Favorite ER memories

Information for people contemplating
a career in emergency medicine and
other medical specialties

By Kevin Pezzi, MD



by , MD

Conscientiousness seems abstract, but here's an example to illustrate it. The following is excerpted from a message I sent to a contractor who performed so poorly I would have saved time by doing the job myself:

Coincidentally, I read an article this morning about conscientiousness that caused me to think of a job I did on a beautiful new home being built downstate. I had been working there for days, hundreds of miles from home. Late in the evening, after the sun set, the Porta-Potty crew came to empty their tank, which they did so sloppily they spilled a lot of feces and urine on the concrete in front of the garage. They obviously didn't care about that and left. When I saw it, I feared other contractors would step on it or even some of the contaminated water surrounding it and walk into the home that was almost complete (the hardwood floors were already installed, etc.). I was tired and eager to get back on the road for the long drive home, but I felt obligated to clean up that mess even though I didn't create it, so I got a hose and cleaned every bit of it from their driveway because it was simply the right thing to do and what I'd hope a contractor would do for me in such a case.

Conscientious people do the right thing even when no one is looking. I never asked the homeowners to pay me for that extra work even though they must have been very wealthy, judging by their opulent mansion. I don't recall even mentioning it to them, but then I'd once risked my future to save the life of a young inner-city male. I saved his life because it was the right thing to do. I didn't care that he was likely poor and couldn't pay me, because I don't valuate people based on how much money they have. Much richer than me or poorer — I don't care; if I can help, I'll try. That's conscientiousness.