More news from the war front, aka my family: they fired the part-time help. They'd already decided to do this when they came home for a trip and found she'd taken off a day early, leaving her cheesehouse work undone and her dairy chores for my brother to do. But she made it easy for them, apparently, by showing up an hour late for work on Monday. My mother also found out she'd been flat-out skipping on washing cheeses in the cooler; there's now several shelves in dire condition that will have to be babied back into sellable condition.

My mother's decided to stop cheesemaking until I'm home to help her, which is bad for the business, but frankly I'm glad. She'd kill herself otherwise.

My mother is bitter. I'm resigned. It seems ridiculous that you can't find people capable of doing manual labor competently, but really, you can't. It's not just us. Try hiring a construction crew to build your house and you'll see what I mean.

It's not the money (try paying a construction crew and you'll see what I mean.) Skilled workers may not have the potential for many-hundred-thousand a year income, but most of 'em are still making more than my college-degree friends, and they don't have student loans to pay off. It's not that there isn't demand for this kind of work. The professions that the Canadian Immigration site are listing as most likely to get you a speedy entry into the country are truck driver, auto mechanic, welder, and nurse (of course - everyone wants nurses), and I'm pretty sure the US is similar. It's not that the professions are inherently inferior.

It's the attitude towards the work, both on the part of society and the part of the workers.

I wish, I really wish, that we could hand a five-point list to everyone who comes on the farm. And make them believe it. It would go something like this:

You will need to learn. Skilled labor is exactly that: skilled. You will need to learn these skills. That you cannot learn these skills out of a book does not make them easy. There will not be a point at which you get to collect your certificate and stop learning. Those of us who've done it for decades are still learning. Get used to it.

You must think. If you think manual labor means you can turn off your brain, bad things will happen. If you're working with animals or heavy machinery, those bad things can potentially involve hospitals or morgues. No matter what you will be loosing us money. Contrary to popular opinion, people without college degrees think all the time, and a job that requires no degree does not free you from the inconvenience of the thought process.

Robots need not apply. We have little interest in people who show up, do the least they can, and go home. We aren't in farming for the money, we're in it for the love, and if you can't care at least a little about us and what we're doing then you will be doing a crappier job than the rest of us and creating us work.

You must do your job. This is not WalMart. If we tell you to do something, it's because it needs doing. If we tell you to do it in a specific way that takes longer, it's because the job requires it. It is not just to keep you busy or for some arcane corporate reason. If you do not do the job you are assigned when you're assigned it and in the way you are assigned it, one of us will have to. Do not act surprised when we're pissed about that.

And, finally, You are responsible for your actions. Not just to your employers, but to the universe. Yes, most of the time there is no way we can catch you doing a slipshod job or pretending to have done a job you haven't, but since we do not assign unimportant jobs (see above), "they'll never know" will not prevent the animal getting sick, the cheese going rotten, or the next person to use those stairs slipping and breaking their neck. If knowing that your job has an actual real-world effect is too much pressure for you, there are plenty of other places to seek employment.

... really, I haven't held any non-farming jobs, but I know this stuff has to be universal. There's no job on earth that's not going to require all of 'em to some degree. So why is nearly everyone who comes to work for us shocked by them, and why do we end up firing people because they're dysfunctional in most or all of them?

Oh, well. The world is going to hell in a handbasket, blah blah, et cetera. Ranting about it occasionally is good for the soul.

Type-In Revisions: 38 pages (of 385)
Word Count, Original and Current: 118,040 / 118,820
Notes: Mmm. Clean dialogue good.

posted at 11:30 AM on 07/27/05 by kat - Category: Politics - Comments closed because I was getting enough spam to run over my bandwidth limits. Sorry guys!
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Comments

JmariC wrote:

I think there are two parts to the issue.

#1- People are still (or increasingly) perpetuating the "Age of Entitlement".
This is where people act, think and truely believe that "the world owes them a living" to some extent. They won't extend themselves because they don't feel it is neccesary or that they should have to. Thier motto- "Everything should come easy".

#2- Fear of Commitment. Now this may sound of topic to some, but it's not. People who do shoddy work are acting that way because they don't want to invest themselves in a job that they don't think they'll have (read: want) long term. I'm not sure what they think they are saving themselves for, nor do I understand where they get the point of view. If you ask these people where they will be in five years, they don't have a real answer or they have one but are doing nothing to accomplish said goal.

That's my 'too sense'. ;)
07/27/05 07:29 PM

gordsellar wrote:

Well, a guy I worked with who did a lot of "manual labour" told me he learned one thing in his job:

<b>Never care more about your job than your employer does.</b>

That's really a frustrating and demoralizing lesson to learn, but he said from experience&#151;and I think I can confirm it from mine&#151;that when you care more than your employer, you risk all kinds of bad things.

You can get taken-advantage-of, but worse you risk showing up your supervisor, which can make life friggin' hard. Meanwhile, you're expending more energy and time on something and you need to, and frankly for most jobs in a wage economy, that's just stupid because it will be neither recognized nor rewarded.

Probably the legacy of this gets carried over from the past jobs into the present for the people you've hired. I'm not saying your folks are like this&#151;I have no idea what they're like as employers&#151;but one always has a sense that one needs to guard one's own interests in a job, even moreso when working for a family business, since many small family businesses routinely screw people who're not related. (And I can definitely say that from experience.)

It's funny; as an employee, I struggle more with balancing how much I would prefer to care more, with the fact that my employer institution quite obviously doesn't care much... and then, the idealistic supervisor who cares more tha anyone else around, and beyond good sense, some would say.

If the people running the institution cared more, the system wouldn't be set up to fail, but as long as it is, I have to walk around with a very unhappy justification for my work: that I'm there for the 2% of students who truly care and want to learn something in my class, instead of just wanting to pump money into the machine and receive a meaningless piece of paper at the end.

I do so long for a position where what I do seems like it matters on a bigger level, even if it's just for half my students. I long for employers who do really care about the institution succeeding in some way other than merely financially.
07/27/05 08:56 PM

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