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Hard to get down to business in waterlogged city, suburbs

NashwAbbushi 18 tries unclog sewer front her house Albany Park neighborhood.  She stayed home help her family take care

Nashwa Abbushi, 18, tries to unclog a sewer in front of her house in the Albany Park neighborhood. She stayed home to help her family take care of their flooded basement. | Art Golab~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 21, 2013 6:09AM



Nashwa Abbushi skipped her shift selling lingere at a suburban Victoria’s Secret Thursday to help bail out her family’s basement in Albany Park.

“I’d rather be helping my mom here than selling bras,” said Abbushi, 18. “My boss was very understanding.”

Flooded basements, cancelled school days and painful commutes meant time away from cubicles, cash registers and everything in between across the waterlogged Chicago region Thursday.

About a third of the 400 young entrepreneurs who could regularly be found — head buried in a laptop — at the tech startup incubator 1871 in Merchandise Mart were nowhere in sight Thursday. The regular hum and bustle of the workspace was missing. And scooter traffic — the preferred mode of office transportation for some — was light. But many of the self starters don’t have to deal with a boss, in the traditional sense.

Not so for the folks at the National Roofing Contractors Association, a trade association located in Rosemont where 18 out of 47 employees missed part or all of the work day Thursday.

Fortunately, they’re allowed an unusual amount of leeway.

“We like to be flexible, and today was a classic example of that,” said Mark Graham, director of technical services. “If we were not that way, we probably would have had more people taking the whole day off when they actually just needed a few hours.”

The nimble scheduling paid off.

“We had all of our departments covered,” said Graham. “It’s very interesting, we really, really very seldom have someone who takes advantage of this situation.”

According to Karen Cates, a lecturer at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, showing a little compassion goes a long way towards inspiring loyalty and commitment.

“This is an opportunity to cut people some slack, give them a break, so they don’t have to worry,” said Cates. “Some people think you can only motivate people with money. You can motivate people by caring for their lives.”

Contributing: Art Golab



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