Oh, Boo Hoo!

Via Megan McArdle, this isn’t gun related, but this kid acts like he’s the first person in the world that ever had to hold down a shitty job to make ends meet. I can remember being 15 or so, and my mom telling me “You’re not just going to sit around the house this summer. You’re going to go get a job,” and I resisted this tremendously, mostly because I have never liked people telling me I had to do X, Y, or Z. But I’m glad my parents made me do that.

My first job was working with my Uncle, involved helping dig up water mains to houses and installing pressure reducers under a water company contract. My cousin and I were helpers, but we helped dig the holes, helped the plumber do the hookup, and then helped refill the holes and tamp the soil back down. It was very difficult work, and we didn’t get paid much. We were cheaper than renting a backhoe, and were less likely to break the water main (though we did once, and that was… interesting).

My next job was not such a screaming violation of child labor laws, since I was 16-18 when I had it and it did not involve grueling manual labor. I worked in the meat packing business 20 hours a week. I stamped expiration dates on sausage packages before they went out to stores. My pay was slightly higher than minimum wage, and I got paid a dollar less an hour than the boss’s son, who did the same job for a while. Compared to my previous work with my Uncle, it was paradise, even though it was still arduous, monotonous work.

And yet somehow I never felt exploited, or felt like “the man” was keeping me down and mistreating me. I liked having the money, and was putting a good bit away for college. Because my mom was sick, she couldn’t work, so it was understood I was going to have to put myself through college, mostly. I worked part-time through most of my college career, though doing engineering work that I was being trained to do. My dad made payments on the loans while I was in school, but after I got out and got a job, I took them over. I lived at home for a while so I could pay down my debts from college a bit, and moved out at 26, thinking at the time it was kind of disgraceful to still be living at home at that age, even though it was just my dad and I (my mom had passed on by that time, and sister moved out).

I’ve had crappy jobs since with sadistic bosses in my professional life. At my last job I went through four CEOs, one of whom, who served the longest, was an absolute nightmare to deal with. But I never considered that I was being subject to that through anything other than my own choice, and I have a hard time understand people who think otherwise. I have absolutely no sympathy for spoiled shits like the kid in this article. None. A few days ago, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame was talking about this very thing. I think our efforts to remove adolescents and young adults from the labor pool is doing a grave disservice to their motivation and character, and this Administration has done nothing but try to make it worse. Any why not? If the spoiled and pampered vote the right way, that’s all that matters isn’t it? I really do increasingly feel like we have two Americas, and those two Americas aren’t anything like each other. They aren’t even on the same planet. This is just more evidence.

12 Responses to “Oh, Boo Hoo!”

  1. Harry Sucio says:

    In my opinion, the bar for a job is whether or not it makes you cry. My wife had 2 jobs that made her cry before she got to a job that does not. I did some secret crying in my first two jobs and I am a big tough guy. Not everyone gets a satisfying well paying job they love. I feel lucky to have that but it took me 16 years in the same business to get there, starting at the bottom. My wife does not love her job but she has a very satisfying life outside of work with hobbies and leisure activities, and her job is a means to an end.
    We have a 24 year old niece who is a recent college grad. She dreamed of working “in international relations,” or “at an NGO,” or “at the UN.” Instead she got a decent paying job in fashion that allows her to live in NYC. It is a hard job and it’s not always fun and people are sometimes mean. And she is depressed about it, like she deserves, at 24, her dream job. Like that movie from the 90s says, Reality Bites.

  2. Dave says:

    So the kid was a crappy employee who didn’t like following the rules set by the guy who signs his paycheck. Sounds, to me, like a kid who grew up in a home where it was all about grades and not about learning to work. This is not unique to Alex, this is a whole generation thinking this way. A generation of kids who were told they could do whatever they wanted to do as long as they had good grades. It’s a shame, but, that’s not how the world works. There are a lot of 4.0GPA grads out there working for a 2.6GPA state school graduate boss. As it turns out, this generation is being lied to. It’s about a whole lot more than grades. It’s about knowing how to work, how to get ahead at work, and how to make work work for you. These kids don’t and won’t get it. We’ve had a few of them come to my work place. Sure, they’re 23 and have to tell you every day that they have a masters degree. My response is “that’s good, you’ll have something to hang on your two sided cube wall. Everyone here, with an office, has like 20+ years of experience – I’m glad you went to school for two extra years to read from a book. That extra paper on the wall doesn’t make you special.”

    I spent a lot of years at crappy jobs. Moving furniture, restaurants, washing cars, building window blinds. At each one of those crappy jobs I learned something I can use to today. I learned when to shut my mouth, I learned when to open my mouth, I learned when to kiss ass, and I learned when to get the hell out of the cross hairs. This entitlement generation never had experience of being told to shut up and do what they’re being told to do. Now they hit a white collar workplace and they just don’t get it. They think they run the show. They think people care about their feelings. They think they don’t have to take orders.

  3. Arnie says:

    Love your personal history, Sebastian. I can relate!

    I find it curious that the number of unemployed in the US is very similar to the estimated number of illegal aliens illegally working here in jobs Americans “won’t take.” I wonder what would happen if we eliminated unemployment insurance and welfare and actually enforced immigration laws. Seems to me we’d solve two problems at the same time.

    Just thinking out loud.

  4. Andy B. says:

    I worked for two years between high school and conscription, and I will say that though he has been dead, lo, almost 45 years, I loved that boss like a second father. We were talking about a partnership situation before Sam got me. Not much money, but the best job I’ve ever had, in terms of satisfaction.

    Then, all of the crappy jobs I’d have after the service were summer jobs, and as excruciating as those were, they were tolerable because the end was always only a few weeks away, and I’d learned to count days in the Army. I was always on time and conscientious no matter how I hated the job.

    The thing that seems missing in our discussion so far, is that a lot of people don’t have the option of just going to find another job. I personally have not had the problem (I was self-employed until I retired) but I have relatives who were unemployed for 2 – 3 years after the 2008 collapse. If someone is stuck in a shitty job right now, I’ll listen to their tale of woe. They will be taken advantage of.

    One of the shitty summer jobs I worked in the 1960s was with a company owned by five brothers who all had the Great Depression attitude that they were doing everyone a favor by employing them at all. One day one of the owners was complaining to all who would listen about the sad plight of the modern employer (in a non-union shop!) when one of the older employees exploded, saying “You all brought it on yourselves!”

    He then went on to tell a story of how a similar business in our area would hire day-workers during the Depression, by taking bids from the mob of unemployed who would show up each morning; and how usually they managed to hire a few people for the promise of a sandwich at the end of the day.

    The point of that story — which gun owners should be able to relate to — is that in the absence of a balance of power, the weaker party will be exploited.

    For the historical record, my dad rode boxcars looking for work during the Depression, and recounted being astonished at seeing literally hundreds of other men leaving the trains before the freights entered the railroad yards, where they would be arrested if caught. People were traveling in every direction pursuing rumors of work that wasn’t there. If we think our generations know anything about work, based on the “Great Recession” we experienced since 2008, I think we’re flattering ourselves.

  5. Stretch says:

    Whenever co-workers complained about particulars of the job I’d bring out stories from my days as a corrections officer.
    Nothing like tales involving flashlights and rubber gloves to put things into perspective.

  6. Stmarks says:

    So he doesn’t like stupid rules like taking the break at precise time set by gov law. but he thinks more gov and liberal rules to the same effect are good.

    What a retard.

    That’s journalism now adays.

  7. What an idiot.

    Doesn’t he realize that instead of working his crappy minimum wage job, he could quit (or get himself fired), apply for food stamps, apply for TANF, file for earned income tax credit, get unemployment benefits forever, and get some cheap Section 8 housing?

    He gets bonus points for knocking up a baby momma, too.

    All the welfare plus a few hours of work under the table for cash on the side would probably be about the same as a minimum wage retail job, and he’d be putting in about 90% less work.

    It is also hilarious that he’s bitching about the supervisor being concerned about getting his break in on time, a break which is likely mandated by either .gov regulations or a union negotiated contract… and the solution is… more regulations and unionization?

  8. MicroBalrog says:

    I am endlessly amused – by people of all political stripes – when they tell tales of how “this one guy believed [opposing viewpoint] until he experienced [event] and REALITY BIT HIM IN THE BEHIND AND HE TURNED AROUND TO MY WORLDVIEW.”

    By the way, everyone does it, and it’s silly when people we agree with do it too.

  9. Bram says:

    We had the “You’re not just going to sit around the house this summer. You’re going to go get a job,” with our 16-year-old last weekend.

    I had a series of crappy summer and entry-level jobs before my career actually started. I not always crazy about my job – but I’m not making crap money in a dirty factory or loading delivery trucks any more.

  10. PT says:

    When I was 13 the rule at the house was either play a sport or get a job. Since I didn’t play any summer sports, dad said get a job.

    Probably the beginning of my libertarian philosophy was when I inquired about a “work permit” which had to be issued by the high school in order for teenagers to work. It limited the hours and types of work. Of course in Michigan a “work permit” is only available to those aged 14 and up. I had a job offer on an awesome job within bike riding distance from my house, but would not be able to accept it due to the “work permit” requirements of being 14 or older.

    So of course I didn’t get the permit and got hired illegally anyways, worked there for a number of years and got promoted every year.. The job was ok with my parents, why the hell did the school / state need to get in the way of my job? If I had attempted to obtain the permit and been denied due to age, I would have missed out on the job. I actually ended up getting a personal reference out of that job that got me into medical school.

    This was the beginning of how I look at how government screws up the marketplace.

  11. Alien says:

    I got the “you’re getting a job this summer” speech when I was 14. Wound up working as grunt labor on the grounds crew at the church school where my mother taught during the winter and tutored during the summer. Did it for two summers. I’m still sore…

    Learned a lot from that job: doing a job well is, indeed, a satisfying experience; education, experience, expertise and ambition is the best way to not wind up in a job you don’t like, and it’ll take a while to get where you want to be as you suffer through a lot of those “don’t want” jobs, each of which will teach you something; the fastest – and best – way to get out of a job that sucks is to become so good at it you’re too valuable to be left in it.

  12. Archer says:

    I slung pizzas while in high school and through college. It wasn’t a summer job – I started in February. I never viewed it as a burden; I suddenly had a LOT more spending cash, was able to build up savings for college, and got some work experience and references (helped with later job hunts). I bought my first car with the money from that job.

    Although I’ve long since finished college and moved on to other, less-manually-intensive and better-paying work, these days anyone who HAS a job has something to be thankful for (my family and I certainly are). Even if it’s crappy. I think that before all this is over, we’ll see another million or two jobs lost, with a couple hundred thousand “added”, with the jobless rate somehow hovering around 8% (must be that “new math”, where pi equals 3 because it’s more convenient than 3.14159265…).

    This kid’s problem is the same as any other person able but unwilling to get themselves off the .gov dole: an overwhelming sense of entitlement. In his mind, he deserves to be taken care of, and it’s unfair to expect him to take care of himself.