It is truly heart wrenching to hear about and read about so many employable folks in the U.S. that have either been laid off, have tried to enter the work force and found no work, or just, for whatever reason, would like to work but there is none to be found. It has caused me to reflect on myself and work I have done over the years.
I was really very young when I had my first job that paid a wage when we lived in Chester. I am guessing I was 6 and my sister(Sheryl) was 8 when a local elderly lady hired us to come after school and bring in a fresh pail of water we pumped from the outside well and two buckets of coal. We were paid a nickle a day for doing this work. She had relatives that did it for her on the weekend. Good grief but those buckets were heavy. She was a demanding task master and we were never to spill a drop of water or a lump of coal. I can still feel the edges of the buckets where they banged against my shins but I was determined to be a good worker. One day this lady decided my sister and I were to brush down the coal bin before she had a load of coal brought in. Now to this day I don’t know why anyone would brush down a coal bin but we took the offered brooms and went to work. All this brooming of walls and floors plus bringing the water and coal for a nickle. If anyone has worked around coal very much you know how the coal dust gets into every pore including inside the nose. Ones clothes turn black. When we arrived home with our nickle our Mom took one look at us and was totally horrified at our condition. I am sure we looked like chimney sweepers. We got an extra bath that week and buffed back into presentable shape. Our dear Mom went to see the lady and she resigned both of us from that work. It might have been my first inclination that employers should have an obligation to employees to have good working conditions.
I was not a whole lot older when another lady in Chester hired me to clean her bathroom. How I loved the cleaning supplies she provided with their fancy bottles and labels. Alas my enthusiasm got the best of me and I thought if a bit of some wonderful smelling product called Glass Wax, which was pink and came out of a pink can, was good, a lot would be better and I put plenty of it on everything. The lady had gone out for a bit. When she came back I was still trying to polish the fixtures, the mirror, the floor and even a bit of the walls. I was nearly finished so she had no idea how hard I had worked. The smell was over powering. She picked up the nearly empty can of Glass Wax and shooed me right out of her house telling me what a wasteful employee I was, I was fired, and I would have to pay her back for the product. I did hate to go home and tell Mom but I did. Mom grabbed her purse and went right to the lady and gave her more than the product would cost. Then I learned that employers make the rules and it is wise to follow the rules. (I also learned being a Mom who stands up for her children is nice for the children.)
Over the years I cleaned a lot of houses in Lime Springs and houses hold many secrets. I learned not to share those secrets and how good it was to become a confidential person. When I became a nurse it was natural to listen to patients and let them talk about whatever it was that was bothering them. I held jobs in many areas of nursing and I look back on all of them with the greatest of pleasure. So many lessons one learns about being a respected worker. The last job I held will always be my favorite. It was as a Director of Nursing for Hospice. Maybe it became my favorite because I realized it would be my last nursing job for a paycheck. Maybe it was because I was able to share a few insights I thought I’d learned to younger folks. Whatever it was I felt good about having worked for so many years in so many jobs.
I always remembered my very first jobs and how it felt to have a harsh employer. I tried always to be kind when helping an employee learn another way of doing a task.
I, of course, don’t have the answer to the raging unemployment figures. Maybe creativity will creep in and new things will emerge for the country. I am very sure that hard work, doing the best job possible, and being flexible are good points to start from.