May 29, 2012

"Telling young people that some jobs are 'menial' is a huge disservice to them and to the whole society."

"Subsidizing them in idleness while they wait for 'meaningful work' is just asking for trouble, both for them and for all those around them."

Also: "The college-for-all crusade has outlived its usefulness. Time to ditch it. Like the crusade to make all Americans homeowners, it's now doing more harm than good."

ADDED: This idea of working when and only when it is meaningful relates to the women's movement. We were told that staying home with the children was unfulfilling and satisfaction was to be found in the workplace. (I've been reading the old feminist classic "The Feminine Mystique" recently.) If women are free to choose — that's what they keep telling us — and it's all about what fulfills us, then of course, work must be meaningful.

80 comments:

EMD said...

Who is more important to the day-to-day function of a business ... the president or the janitor?

Matthew Sablan said...

"What should I do when I grow up?"

"Any honest job you can."

Some of the best advice I've ever gotten.

Rliyen said...

I've already told my son that if he doesn't want to go to college, that's fine.

But, I do impress upon him to learn a trade. I have Mike Rowe to thank for that.

MisterBuddwing said...

David Letterman - yes, David Letterman - offered what I thought was some good, common sense advice worthy of a Midwestener.

Perplexed by young people who said they didn't know what they wanted to do with their lives, Letterman asked, "What are you good at?"

Scott M said...

My oldest son is putzing his way aimlessly through college. I blame my ex-wife as I told him, point blank, he was not ready for college when he registered as a freshman.

My wife and I have two girls (8 and 4) and a boy (2). We are thankfully both fully on board with the notion that not one of them is going to college on our dime unless they are ready, able, and have a plan.

It's just too damned expensive to treat it as glorified day care for what would otherwhen be classified as adults.

My entire family is military or ex-military. There are incredible options the military makes available to enlistees that won't saddle them with ridiculous amounts of debt for nearly the rest of their lives. Had my oldest, an Illinois resident, gone into the military at 18, he would be three years into a four year term and looking at both the Montgomery GI bill, the Army college fund, AND the Illinois MAP grant, which allows veterans to attend state universities (which his is currently slumming his way through) FOR FREE.

Instead, he picked a bullshit major (sports marketing) and has cost his mother nearly 20 grand.

AJ Lynch said...

Scott M:

I was surprised and gratified to hear from my nephew what the military would pay him and for him for med school if he agrees to give them 4-5 years after med school.

MadisonMan said...

It is College Graduates who describe things as menial, in my experience.

Expat(ish) said...

@ScottM - Well, he can turn it around. At least he's got an interesting major he can manipulate in the marketplace. I'd interview a guy with a sports marketing degree and a CISCO certification. I wouldn't if the degree was "protest poetry."

-XC

Scott M said...

At least he's got an interesting major he can manipulate in the marketplace. I'd interview a guy with a sports marketing degree and a CISCO certification.

He's not treating a major Illinois university as a school or place for learning a skill. He begrudgingly goes to classes while spending time with fraternity stupidity and trying to get a full contact football club off the ground...at a school that has a football team.

I'm the last person in the world to label fraternities as useless. I had a blast. But I also didn't got three semesters undeclared and probation out after four.

edutcher said...

It used to be any job was worth doing if it was honest work. The business of "meaningful work" sounds like something out of the hippie dippy era.

PS The "a college education is a right" nonsense is peddled by the Demos to keep the student loan thing going. A college education is something to be earned and not everybody has the intellectual wherewithal for it.

That said, carpenters and stone masons are every bit as skilled as that's where some people's talents lay.

Michael K said...

I am in the middle of an e-mail exchange with my daughter who tells me I made a derogatory comment about her job as a waitress while she is going to college at U of Arizona. I wanted her to stay in California and go to a Cal State college, like her cousin who graduated a week ago. Instead she chose Arizona where her freshman courses were crappy. US History taught her that pioneer farmers learned to farm from Plains Indians who were hunter-gatherers. There were a number of other howlers in the course handouts. I complained to a Dean. The U raised out -of-state tuition to $25,000/ years after she began.

I'm not that happy with her major but she was never a reader, although quite intelligent. The best thing she is doing is her job where she gets great tips and learns to fend for herself. I don't know what I said to give her the impression I disapproved of the job. It's about the only thing I approve of.

MadisonMan said...

I don't know what I said to give her the impression I disapproved of the job. It's about the only thing I approve of.

Speaking as the dad of an undeclared-major sophomore-to-be, I'll say that you didn't say anything about disapproval. But she still heard it.

Ah, kids.

EMD said...

My oldest son is putzing his way aimlessly through college. I blame my ex-wife as I told him, point blank, he was not ready for college when he registered as a freshman.

Who pays his tuition?

If it's you ... stop.

Scott M said...

Who pays his tuition?

If it's you ... stop.


It's not me, thankfully. His mother insisted he go to college after high school and so she's footing the bill. To help placate her, I offered to keep him on my insurance until he graduates, but I made sure the decree included progress standards which he's already fallen short of.

She should have seen the writing on the wall when his first semester, he took 16 hours and finished 9, barely.

Big Mike said...

As usual, common sense from Sowell and Samuelson.

Graham Powell said...

Honest work is honest work. I'm a systems analyst now and doing pretty well, but when I was younger I chopped weeds, built fence, stocked auto parts in a warehouse, etc.

Even with all that, though, it took a few years after college before I learned how to be a really good employee.

Superdad said...

It is becoming a real problem for our economy.

http://www.jsonline.com/business/skilled-trades-among-hardest-jobs-to-fill-0s5icuf-155206365.html

Big Mike said...

a major Illinois university ... that has a football team.

I guess you don't mean Champaign-Urbana then.

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shanna said...

A job you hate is an incentive to work hard and get a better one.

I do agree that we should respect anyone who is doing hard, honest work. My brother drives a truck and I would hate that kind of job but he likes driving so it works for him.

I think students need to spend some times in high school doing a serious cost benefit analysis of various career paths. Not one that tries to steer everyone towards college, either. Even if they go to college with the intention of studying art history, they should go into it with their eyes open and realistic view of what that gets them at what cost. It may still be worth it for some kids, but not for others.

Simon said...

MisterBuddwing said...
"Perplexed by young people who said they didn't know what they wanted to do with their lives, Letterman asked, 'What are you good at?'"

Unfortunately, there are very few jobs that pay well for self-pity, having poor taste in music, acting like an uncouth simpleton, spending an inordinate amount of time playing video games, writing atrocious poetry, drooling over [insert flavor-of-the-month actress], and disappointing one's parents.

Mitchell said...

I hadn't realized that Thomas Sowell was a communist.

Simon said...

Shanna said...
"A job you hate is an incentive to work hard and get a better one."

They don't think that way! A job you hate is merely an incentive to dive as deep as one can into escapist fantasy, mood-altering substances, or both. It's such a bloody working class mentality, and I don't know how this country can long survive if it continues to thrive at the expense of the entrepeneurial spirit that makes America work.

Big Mike said...

@Simon, if they're good a videogames they can learn how to be drone pilots and blow up real cars with real terrorists inside.

Just sayin'

traditionalguy said...

College standards need to be much higher, and the Administrator's tricks to keep 4 year degree students there 5 years is a crime and they ought to jail them for it.

But College Degrees are a sign to employers that the applicant is not a quitter and that he/she is literate in English.

But after age 22 the individual is smart or dumb based upon his/her own mind seeking knowledge and the will to succeed.

Big Mike said...

@Mitchell, he's not. Go back and read him again.

There will be a short quiz ...

Erika said...

My nephew graduated a couple of years ago from college with a degree in business administration. He was never expected to work at any point in his education, so he's been in the interesting position of trying to make a case to interviewers that they should hire him despite literally no work experience save a couple of short-term internships. He's had the opportunity to work a few "menial" jobs, and despite the urging of his sensible relatives that he needs to build some work experience and learn the skills involved in being an employee of any kind, he's made excuses for why he can't do those jobs. Truth of the matter is that he's spoiled and coddled and unwilling to go outside his comfort
zone and still living in a fantasy land wherein he emerges from college with a $60k salary and office with a view waiting for him.

He decided to put off looking for work for a while and starts graduate school this fall--I've tried telling him that that master's degree will not make him more employable, but it's like talking to a brick wall.

wyo sis said...

I don't like the designation menial, but it's what we call it so it will do. The idea of menial work is that no one does it for very long because they get better at working and move up to less menial jobs. Menial work is for people new to the workforce and people learning the job for advancement. Of course, some people stay there, but that is by choice or because of health, mental issues or other problems.
Finding dignity in hard work is a product of people working their way up. If everyone does repetitive and/or dirty work then everyone knows how hard it is and appreciates it. If some people think they're too good to do it that's an indication they're getting too much for too little effort. When our 17 year old daughter balked at working in a fast food restaurant we decided it was time to end her allowance. She still doesn't work at Burger King, but she cleans offices, and mows lawns. She earns her own money now anyway. And working for a scholarship suddenly seems like a good idea.

Dan in Philly said...

Work is like all things - it only has meaning if you wish it to have meaning. I like the quote by Ghandi: "It's not important what you do, but it is very important that you do it." Kind of captures a lot of different generes of wisdom there.

ndspinelli said...

My Uncle Charlie was a penniless immigrant who came to the US as a young man. He worked in a factory sweeping floors, going to school, and became a mechanical engineer. He was a kind, funny, wise man. What he said to all his nieces and nephews, @ appropriate times was, "The only job you should ever be ashamed of is a job poorly done."

EMD said...

I've been doing a lot of hard, physical yardwork around my house recently (new landscaping).

Some would call it menial labor. But it's highly rewarding since you can see immediate returns on your efforts.

It also makes me tired. But it's a good, satisfied tired.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

a bullshit major (sports marketing)

Seriously? That is an actual major in a college?

WTF?

Young people who are not allowed to work summer jobs or are discouraged from "menial work" will never be good employees. They all want to start out at the top. They think that they are special or more valuable than they really are.

Parents and schools are not doing these kids any favors by coddling them because in the REAL world, you are not a special snowflake and no one cares whether you are fulfilled at work. They care that you work and do your job well. That is all.

Original Mike said...

"Telling young people that some jobs are 'menial' is a huge disservice to them and to the whole society. ...Subsidizing them in idleness while they wait for 'meaningful work' is just asking for trouble, ... This idea of working when and only when it is meaningful relates to the women's movement ...If women are free to choose — that's what they keep telling us — and it's all about what fulfills us, then of course, work must be meaningful."

Gee, as a guy, if I'd have laid that "work must be meaningful" line on my father when I was a teenager, I'd a been out on my ear.

Must be nice being a feminist.

EDH said...

"Start with strawberries, you might work your way up to these goddamn bananas! ...You get a goddamn job before sundown... or we're shipping you off to military school with that... goddamn Finkelstein... shit kid!"

Son, your mother and me would like for you to cozy up to the Finkelstein boy. He's a bright kid, and, uh... he's going to military school, and... remember, he was an Eagle Scout...

Will you shut up? We're not going to have a family brawl!

Build your goddamn muscles, huh? You know, you could build your muscles picking strawberries. You know, bend and scoop... like the Mexicans.

Shit, maybe I could get you a job with United Fruit! I got a buddy with United Fruit. Get you started.

Start with strawberries, you might work your way up to these goddamn bananas!

When, boy? When... are you going to get your act together?

Oh, good God Almighty me. I think he's the Antichrist. Anthony, I want to talk to you. Now, listen!

Don't walk away from me when I'm talking to you! You get a goddamn job before sundown... or we're shipping you off to military school with that... goddamn Finkelstein... shit kid!

Son of a BITCH!

BarrySanders20 said...

My 12 year old son just began refereeing soccer agmes. $12 a game, which he likes.

He's also learing 1) to enforce rules (the "laws of the game"); 2) to make judgment calls and stick with them; 3) to deal with irate and sometime irrational adults; 4) to show up on time and force coaches to operate on his clock to start each half; 5) paperwork (collecting vouchers, completing the information, recording and reporting scores and sending all to the correct address to get paid); and 6) the IRS (his first vouchers were returned unpaid because the league did not have a W-9 on file for him).

All in all, a good first experience of what to expect if you want to earn money, he's learning skills he will always need, and he's learning lessons about people. Every job is important, being on time counts, there will always be some assholes you have to deal with, paperwork is part of every job, and the IRS is watching. All that in the first few weekends.

caplight45 2.0 said...

My late brother-in-law found himself unemployed in his chosen profession (a pastor) for long stretches of time during the recession. He held a Masters of Divinity, but there was no job too menial for him to take in support of his wife and 2 toddlers. He enlisted as a chaplain in the National Guard, and while awaiting his deployment to Afghanistan, he worked as a janitor and picked up shifts at my father-in-law's plant. He died in an explosion doing that "menial work", and there are few men I regard with greater respect.

ndspinelli said...

BarrySanders, At your sons age I caddied and umpired men's softball games. I learned a LOT, A REAL LOT, about adults. I'm sure your son gets shit from players, coaches asd parents. Tell him it may not seem worth $12 sometimes but he's learning more than he will in school. Well..maybe you better not tell him that truth about school!

Scott M said...

At your sons age I caddied and umpired men's softball games. I learned a LOT, A REAL LOT, about adults.

THIS! 1000x this. Although I did not realize it at the time, I learned more about adults by caddying than anything else up to that point (14 years old). At 15.5, when Illinois let you start part-time work back in 1985, I was a busboy. Both jobs taught me a lot.

Shanna said...

One thing I will say for boring, repetitive work is that occasionally it has a meditative quality that I enjoy.

Dan in Philly said...

One thought: There's nothing wrong with telling someone a job is "menial" if it is. labeling menial jobs something sexy will not make them any less menial or any more challenging or make them pay any more.

On the contrary, graduates should be encouraged to take menial jobs! Nothing will still the old ambition quite like asking "Do you want fries with that" about 150 times a day. Suddenly sweating that extra 3 or 4 hours in front of a computer seems less stifling to your little creative flower, doesn't it?

n.n said...

It's about time to offer proper and sufficient respect for all people in our society and their roles in the economy. The work of a simple laborer may be menial, yet it is indispensable. It is also a choice by natural circumstances and conscious will. The alternative that has been put forth would require replace people with machines or slaves.

As for proper compensation, we should recognize that not everyone will enjoy a beachfront property in Hawaii. Reality can occasionally be moderated, but it cannot be rejected. Not for long anyway.

bagoh20 said...

"We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don't you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don't your eyes seek out the things you want? "

~ Hannibal Lecter

To covet is the nature of the woman.

Original Mike said...

What's the better motivator for improving yourself and your lot?

1) Working a "menial" job, or

2) Being subsidzed in idleness while you wait for 'meaningful work'

Richard Dolan said...

"This idea of working when and only when it is meaningful relates to the women's movement."

It's got a longer history than that, and traces back (at least) to Marxist theories of the economic alienation of workers from the product of their labor. Marxist theory has its own spin on the basic equation of meaningful work = self actualization. The same theme in slightly different dress was also a frequent mode of attack on Henry Ford's assembly line form of work ('workers reduced to robots' stuff).

bagoh20 said...

I think it's a cultural thing. I never heard people in my family disparage any kind of work. Not working, now that was a bad thing. That's called working class values.

Some jobs may be more sexy, and some can be disgusting, but the word menial just does not fit many jobs I know of. It implies unimportant, and easy, but very few jobs are that if they are done right. In fact, the ones that are unimportant are often the highest paid.

I would call teaching something like Women's Studies a menial job. It's easy, and if you stopped doing it, I don't think anyone would be worse off.

Now compare that to garbage collector. not easy, and if you stop doing it, the whole city gets pretty upset.

bagoh20 said...

One thing that makes "menial" jobs harder is that you can't bullshit your way through them. It's obvious whether or not you did it well. Some high paying jobs can be done very poorly without anyone noticing. You will notice that people in these professions tend to avoid criticizing each others' work. They give each other a lot of awards and such. It's like bribery to keep your mouth shut about the con.

William said...

I never had much of a work ethic, but I was burdened with a huge work necessity. I gave my employers their money's worth, but I never kidded myself that there was anything character building or meaningful about the multiple crappy jobs that fate and necessity foisted upon me. Works sucks. That's why they call it work.... I would advise any young person to avoid as much of it as possible for as long as possible. I would say that any young person who has talked his parents into paying for his upkeep and tuition for 21 plus years has developed the manipulative skills that augur well for their ability to prosper in life.

Seven Machos said...

Richard Dolan -- I think Marx's critique is pretty excellent. He was a great critic. That was his calling. His attempts at actual philosophy are embarrassingly awful.

The Fight Club critique is quite good as well -- same basic result from a very different angle.

JAL said...

I think for some, yes, it's a mind blower, but some menial work is meaningful. Maybe all. All depends on what you mean by "is."

Menial work teaches one thing: Show up.

Menial work often is work that needs to be done to keep the world going around, the streets clean, the car from turning into a pile of rust (if one lives in snow country.)

Menial work often holds off decay. Which isn't trivial.

Menial work teaches one to value menial working people.

Why is it that leftys have to champion the "menial" by pooping on it and trying to make others embarrassed or ashamed of it?

I got up at who knows when early hour in college and opened tomato cans and made toast in the refrectory. So my fellow students could eat. (And bitch about cold toast. Loved how the further left -- "liberal" in those days ... commie type -- people were the ones who bitched that the toast they got wasn't "hot.") IIRC the school could pay below minimum wage -- and they did.

I have waited tables (badly) clerked in retail (some tourists are a PITB), and done line work in a restaurant.

I have changed wet beds, emptied bedpans and cleaned up vomit. (If you have kids, the nanny isn't there at 3 AM when they heave.)

Menial makes the world go round doofuses. If you move up -- (I did, in some ways -- I now shovel horse poop for fun) great.

But Menial teaches a lot of lessons about yourself, people and life in general.

And menial -- meaning manual / trade -- hahaha. Some of my neighbors never went to 4 year college but they are living the good life because they know how to DO stuff which involves getting dirty.

Son-in-law is joining the military so he can get that training to DO more stuff better than he knows now, rather than pursure a college education in ______ [fill in blank with unmarketable degree] because he knows he will have real job when he gets out and be able to support his family.

Hagar said...

I wanted to be a civil engineer, and it was necessary for me to "go to college" in order to become that. So, I requested draft, served my two years and got the G.I. Bill (at that time $135/month for time enrolled, which was almost enough to pay tuition and books at a landgrant college), worked part-time for grocery and rent money, and got my diploma, so that I could start working on becoming an engineer.

It is this thing of telling the kids to go to college and good things are going to come to them forever after that is lunacy.
You need to know what it is you are going there for before you go, and you need to know that you can pay the price and are willing to do so.

AllieOop said...

My youngest child, my only son, was not college material, we both knew it. He is very mechanically inclined so he applied for a Millwright apprentiship in our County Tech School after high school was accepted and now has become a Millwright Journeyman, four years later.

The old Millwrights are retiring and dying off sadly. He makes a good wage, belongs to a union ( gasp!:) and gets full time hours in this crappy economy. Soon the old guys will be completely gone and we will be facing a severe shortage of skilled workmen.

My other three children are college graduates, two who are employed in their fields. One who is a stay SAHM.

Peter said...

"Unfortunately, there are very few jobs that pay well for self-pity, having poor taste in music, acting like an uncouth simpleton, spending an inordinate amount of time playing video games, writing atrocious poetry, drooling over [insert flavor-of-the-month actress], and disappointing one's parents.

Medical care is a human right.
Housing is a human right.
Food is a human right.

So why should I work at something I don't enjoy doing- I've got rights dangit!

(Which is to say, I have the right to make you work to support me. And you thought you were so smart!

Hagar said...

I guess the point is that good things won't come to you just because you have a college degree. Getting the degree is just for starters, and borrowing money - large sums of money at that - just in order to "go to college" is lunacy.
In fact, even if you know what you are wanting to do in life, that is crazy. Get the money first - at least most of it and learn something you can do to earn money as you go so that you graduate free and clear is the way to go.
Then you just may be able to marry at an early age and have kids without going nuts with debt collectors hounding you.

bravoyankee said...

Ha, Ha! I'm in!

This hinges on the definition of "meaningful work". Struggled with same decades ago. Once I figured out that it meant doing whatever (moral and legal) tasks needed doing, my problems were solved...along with many inner conflicts. There is always work of this sort and always someone willing to pay to have it done.

This started out with menial tasks and work no one else wanted, then work no one else was trained for, and finally to responsibilities no one wanted to bear; but they all needed doing by someone. The trick (as far as your own mental health is concerned) is determining what needs doing.

Penny said...

If the exceptionally bright Friedan had embraced capitalism instead of Marxism, and had she studied business instead of psychology, I can only imagine what her impact would have been on generations of both young women and young men, not to mention American society at large.

Sad really.

rcommal said...

You need to know what it is you are going there for before you go, and you need to know that you can pay the price and are willing to do so.

This.

I do indeed want my son to go to college, but I also want him to have some sort of physical, trade-type skill as well--or at least the basis/background for one. I consider it our job as homeschooling parents to do our best to prepare him, to give him the background, to be able to pursue either or both paths--and to be flexible, because it's likely he'll need or want to do more than one thing, probably a number of things, over the course of his life. What he ultimately chooses to pursue is, of course, up to him (which includes accepting the consequences and costs* of whatever his choice or choices are).

*This isn't to say we won't help him out with college or whatever, so long as he seriously works at it, has some kind of thoughtful plan and is making progress toward his goals. I'm all for enabling achievement, and even sacrificing in order to do so.

rcommal said...

I have come to believe, pretty firmly, that it truly would behoove many, many, many college-bound students to test the waters prior to signing up to go full time. Perhaps this might involve cross-enrolling in a community college class (some school systems permit this and some even encourage it), or, if home-schooled, actually physically taking one fairly early on (ability and maturity permitting, of course)! At a bare minimum, I'd encourage at least an online college-level course, even if non-credit. Not only might this be enlightening, and a learning experience, it could provide parents and the student with a good assessment tool with regard to college-readiness. If it's a for-credit course and thoughtfully chosen, you might even be able to "bank" credit hours in advance. Many homeschoolers also take advantage of AP testing and subject matter tests (by studying on their own and then paying for the tests, which is massively cheaper than paying for actual courses). This can also be a decent assessment tool, AND allow the banking of credit hours.

Blue@9 said...

No no no, don't you evil conservatives get it? Everyone deserves a middle-class life. Everyone should have a sociology PhD and wear blazers with elbow patches and sip good chardonnay. We don't need people to sweep floors or fix pipes or pick grapes-- that's not meaningful work!

Penny said...

"I would say that any young person who has talked his parents into paying for his upkeep and tuition for 21 plus years has developed the manipulative skills that augur well for their ability to prosper in life."

Bingo!

And now for the sad news...

All but well-to-do parents are destined for a trash heap of pain. Many are at or near retirement age with scant few years left to save a dime while continuing to house their adult children whose student loans they CO-SIGNED to the tune of some portion of 1 TRILLION dollars of debt.

Oops!

Penny said...

Parents will know soon enough if they raised "good kids".

Roux said...

Every honest job has value just as every honest worker has value.

Kids should be taught that they aren't too good for any job.

bagoh20 said...

I've said it before: skip college and start a business. You can learn virtually anything today without paying for tuition. You may not get that sheepskin, but you won't get the bill either. If your business is successful, you can do whatever you want, including making a difference, and never have to work for anyone again.

Don't be a sheep, be a sheep dog.

rcommal said...

Penny: Yep. Scariest thing about being a parent, if you ask me.

rcommal said...

Bagoh: I have a lot of respect for that position and would certainly support my own son if that's what he wanted to do and he's motivated enough to do it. (If he happens to develop certain types of skills and interests, he could even at least start out by going through our own "non-specified professional services" incorporated entity.")

However, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur or business owner, though, at least not in the way in which you are (which I admire).

I guess I'm tempted to extend what you said just a little bit, if you don't mind. I think it's a truly excellent skill and habit of mind to be prepared to create your own work, or to put it another, create your own job (even if you're not equipped, for whatever reason, to create a business and be an employer). To be able to pinpoint needs and market yourself and your skills as fulfilling those needs in creative ways is invaluable. There are a lot of consultants, contract workers and other self-employed types who do quite well. It's not the most secure thing all of the time--but then, hell, almost nothing is, is it?

Jane said...

So, Caplight45, in what denomination is there unemployment among pastors? I thought this was pretty much guaranteed employment.

rcommal said...

All but well-to-do parents are destined for a trash heap of pain. Many are at or near retirement age with scant few years left to save a dime while continuing to house their adult children whose student loans they CO-SIGNED to the tune of some portion of 1 TRILLION dollars of debt.

I know a fair number of people in precisely that situation, and what makes it even more sad is that a number of them are ALSO underwater on their mortgage (and in precarious employment situations themselves). Talk about multiple whammies!

Freeman Hunt said...

Menial jobs provide the best stories.

Freeman Hunt said...

My father-in-law grew up very poor, your-Christmas-present-this-year-is-socks type of poor, and most of his best stories are from the variety of menial jobs he held as a young man.

He has seven brothers and sisters. All had to work hard because they came from nothing. All are successful.

SH said...

A job is a job. I’ve pealed potatoes (luckily I had a machine to help) and made pizzas. It was fun at times. Now I do something that pays more but work is work… If given a choice, working in fast food over being on unemployment should be something respected… and/or supporting yourself by the means available to you.

Penny said...

Me too!

And these are hard fiscal lessons to learn for folks who had only the best intentions and the highest aspirations for their kids.

When they signed on the dotted line and took on the debt of a second mortgage or a student loan, they imagined a future that would look a whole helluva lot like the day they were signing those legal documents.

Penny said...

Well, at least some of them saw it that way.

If we are honest, we know that there were a whole helluva lot of those parents who were just replaying a tape in their heads that said it was their DUTY to sacrifice for their kids, and costs be damned.

Penny said...

And half of those probably learned that from what their own parents did, while the other half learned the very same thing from what their parents didn't do.

Hagar said...

In addition to what bagoh20 said above, I would like to point out that there are such things as libraries, museums, etc., and there is nothing to stop you from getting a quite superior "education" in addition to your business or "menial" job skills. And a lot cheaper too, besides not wasting your youthful years.

John Lynch said...

Since there are a lot of people talking up how important "menial" jobs are, but no one admitting to currently working in one, I'll do it.

I deliver pizzas. I make sauce. I put mushrooms in tubs. I fold pizza boxes.

I love my job. It pays more than my last office job, and has better working conditions. I'm even going to be able to buy a house.

I have a BA in Political Science. It's useless! The jobs that it helps me get I hate. I don't like working inside, I don't like paperwork, and I don't like having to lie every day. That's office work.

Instead, I enjoy driving around, meeting people, and giving them food. Everything I do matters. I see the results immediately.

Not bad for a job that was originally part-time making extra money on the weekend.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

"However, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur or business owner, though, at least not in the way in which you are...

Oh man! I was such a total lost cause as a young man, I worked, and I went to college, but it was lost time. After school I remained mostly just a bum.

I had no intention of ever being a businessman, but success in business is very intoxicating. It will pull a loser like I was out of his hedonism better than just about anything, because it's your thing, which a young person really needs and feeds on. It's like the difference between holding someone's child and holding your own.

It's a kind of frontier experience where a young person goes out on his own to build something. It has risks, of course, but I don't think it's as risky as an expensive college education, and that really does not have the open ended plus side of a business, where the sky is the limit.

I think it's very unlikely that a person who spent 4 or 8 years building a business would be worse off in terms of finances, experience, skills, wisdom and competence, than that same person spending that time in school. School is just too insular and safe.

In business you are fully alive, completing, innovating, building, risking, and actually living instead of just doing what you're told, and waiting to get started.

Everybody is looking to get a good job. Just build your own. It takes about the same time and money, and it's yours to keep to grow to change as you want. The experience is so valuable that even if you fail, you are way ahead, and just go at it with your new understanding. Manage money smartly. It's about keeping one foot on base until you see your opening. Then going for it.

Unknown said...

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves,
some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all."
Sam Ewing

rcommal said...

Not for the first time, I'm wondering if there could be some value in commenters listing the jobs/work they undertook from at least middle school (6th-8th grade) and on up. My husband and I recently have talked about compiling the very long list of work, much of it so-called menial, in our earliest years (from late elementary school/early middle school) and well into our college years, at least, not to mention well beyond, for the benefit of our soon-to-be 7th-grader.

And we had it easy, in some respects (though most certainly not in a number of notable others).

I'll stop there, at least for now.

Hagar said...

I love people who actually can build, and build well, what I can only see in my mind and inadequately describe on paper and by lots of words and hand waving in the field.

ErnieG said...

@EMD:"Who is more important to the day-to-day function of a business ... the president or the janitor?"

Back before I retired, I worked as a sales engineer for a small industrial machinery distributor. One morning as I was preparing to go out into the field, I went into the rest room and found the president of the company cleaning the toilet. I said, "For God's sake, Mr. T_, one of us could be doing that." He said, "Ernie, you and Bill need to be out calling on customers. My job is to think about things like our line sheet, and where we should be going. I can do that here or looking out of the window. Now go out and make some money."