When I was growing up, my dad actually taught me how to work. He told me that when somebody is paying you, they are not just paying you for part-time work, and when you get your assigned job done, don't just stand around. Clean up something, or put away things. He said there is always something to do, and he was right.
One time I applied for a job in an ambulance factory building the cabinets that go inside. As a test, the owner gave me the plans for an upper wall mounted cabinet that had a curved back to fit at the top where the wall starts to curve into the ceiling. I started, and he left. Well, when he left most of the crew slowed their work right down. Some lit up a smoke, and others started talking, and not much was getting done The owner came back in about twenty minutes, and I had all the parts cut out, and was starting to assemble them. He could see that I kept on task , and I think he was a bit shocked that I kept right on working when he left. I got the job.
I have seen it time after time in my working life, workers stop, or slow down whenever they can. It is almost an us against them mentality. Something else my dad taught me. When you work hard, the day flies right on by.
The reason I got to thinking about this is that I stopped at a Subway to get a Veggie Delite sandwich this afternoon. There was an older lady and two young people working. The place was almost empty, and after the lady made my sandwich, she went right to work cleaning up the counter, and then went to the back and came out with cups and napkins and refilled the dispensers. Those two young people just stood there doing nothing.
Here is the problem I think we are having. When I was growing up, if your parent didn't teach you how to work, you soon learned how to at whatever manual job you got. There were so many manufacturing plants all around this country, it was easy to find work. College kids worked these jobs in the summer, and many times during the holidays to get a couple of weeks of pay in. Those who didn't stay in school started apprentice programs, and learned their trade from older, more experienced workers.
Those kinds of jobs are gone here in the United States today, and so there is little chance that you are going to get a job where the rest of the workers actually work hard. Factory workers worked hard because they usually got pretty good pay and benefits. Today, summer jobs, if you can get one, usually don't give you that same experience with workers who have a strong work ethic. We can only hope those two young people at that Subway will pick up some good habits from that older lady.
So, I think it is a valid question. What are we going to do when all the people who worked those factory jobs die out? Who is going to teach our young people how to work? I know the man who owns that Subway I ate at values that woman and the way she works, and I bet he wonders who he will find to replace her when she decides to quit.
I see it all over. Older workers working full or part time jobs you would think a young person would have. Why? Because employers know that older workers actually work. Now, this isn't true for all jobs, You will not see older workers in jobs that pay for workers health insurance, because the rates are so high for older workers, but if you can hire an older worker for just the money they get from their check, you know most will make you money. Those who never learned how to work are not out looking for work. Usually it is that hard worker that wants to keep right on working.
Many older people know that work, no matter what it is, has value, and it is more that just that pay check. It is the dignity of having a job, and the interactions you have while working. For many young people it is a surprise when they find out that the right kind of work can be fun. However, what is fun for one person can be work for another. So, you have to find the job that is right for you.
I really don't know what we are going to do about how America approaches work in the future, but we still have a wealth of knowledge in our older workers. There should be some way for our schools to use their knowledge and allow those workers to pass that work ethic to our future workers.
BACK to the Politics Columns.