Thoughts on Work

In the late 1970’s  I remember stepping into the Standard Parts store  on main street owned by  Gus Norlin and Jim Redding. They had a sign behind the counter that set the tone  the minute you walked into their store :

Poor Planning On Your Part,

Does NOT constitute An Emergency On My Part.

In the back room there was another sign:

Labor Rates:

$8 per hour

$12 per hour if you watch

$20 per hour if you help

I kept thinking about that second sign this past week.

We were installing a  metal roof on a 2 story house.  Homeowner (I’ll call him Harry), is a retired farmer who watched my every move.   I came home mentally and physically exhausted four nights in a row.

We would start each morning tearing off the shingles on a section of roof, cover it with #30 felt, then install the new roof in the afternoon.

I got the lead on this job from a friend.  Jim (my friend)  told me, if  Harry liked my work, he could keep me busy, “although he will probably be on the job most of the day.”

I told Jim, “Harry may think I am on probation, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s the one on probation.” 🙂

I still haven’t decided if I can tolerate him. 😉

I hate strongly detest  grumblers.

Growing up on the farm, dad had us  putting in long physical days doing all sorts of nasty stuff and it shaped my attitudes in ways I didn’t realize at the time. (including not whining about whatever job I was assigned.)

We had a small dairy herd, milked 18 cows before and after school from the age of 12 on.

The summer I turned 14, I got a construction job.  (Dad and my uncle owned a construction business.)  We worked from 7 till 5:30.  The cows still had to be milked before and after work.

I grew up pouring concrete and building steel buildings.

I especially loved Saturday mornings when I could take my time card to Sam Schutz’s office with 50 hours on it and pick up my paycheck.

When I graduated high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.  I decided to work for a year and then decide. As the year came to a close, I realized I loved construction, and if I stuck with it, there was lots of opportunities to get ahead.  My grandma (Dad’s mom) was the only person to express her disappointment at my decision.   She was discouraged her eldest grandson  had decided no to go to college.
“But Dougie, you are so smart!”  She said in her thick German accent,  the look  of disappointment in her eyes.

As I sit here tonight, ( mentally recharging my batteries from the week of working with Harry)  I am still thankful.  Thankful I have the freedom to work (or not work) for Harry.

Thankful, my dad instilled in me the value of hard physical labor.

Thankful I am no longer a driven work-a-haulic. 😉  (I can take a nap with the best of them without a hint of guilt or shame.)

I am thankful I sleep like a baby 95% of the time.  When my head hits the pillow, it is lights out.

touching the ubenshlauger
Showing off, touching my nose with a sledge-hammer.

“If anyone is not willing to work,  you have no obligation to feed him…”


Tell me about your job. (If you are still in school, or watch your kids full-time this also means you) 😉 What do you love about your job? What are the hardest things about it?   Describe the perfect work setting for you.

This entry was posted in enjoying life, faith, family, farming, Iowa, life, personal, wisdom and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Thoughts on Work

  1. Love- the freedom of working from home even if it is 2nd shift.

    Hate/dislike – lack of communication, conflict (addressing problem people/issues), drama

    My perfect job not punching a time clock. Sun up to sun down doing the tasks that I choose to do. Today a great example up @630 picking berries. To town for firemans breakfast (6ppl ate for $14). Helped my sister clean her new house and afternoon of family fun (parade, bouncy houses) home for supper, stroll in the garden, hanging out for the fire works.
    “Sun up to sun down doing the tasks that I choose to do.” You pretty much just described my job 😉 good to hear from you Nicole. DM

  2. shoreacres says:

    What do I love about my work? The freedom, I suppose (including the freedom to work ten hour days and weekends). What’s hard? Extreme heat and extreme cold.

    I laughed at that sign. Inflation’s come along and done its work. The last time I saw a copy, it said,

    Labor Rates: $25/hr
    If you watch: $45/hr
    If you tell me how to do it or demand the right to help: $75/hr
    Being self employed has it’s risks but also comes with some great perks…freedom, flexibility, and the potential for making more than an hourly rate. thanks for your comment Linda! DM

  3. Kristina says:

    I LOVE MY WORK!!! i get to be with animals all day and sometimes all night. I get to pick and choose when are where I work. the hardest part of my job is when a 4 legged client dies, the second hardest is dealing with crazy 2 legged owners.
    love you from the pac northwest “merica!!
    You have the perfect job for someone who loves animals. I totally understand where you are coming from talking about the 2 legged owners 😉 DM

  4. micey says:

    I want to see the sledge hammer trick when I come visit in August. Haha! I love seeing inside the human body. I love touching inside the human body. I love seeing people visibly go from being fearful to relaxing when I spoke a little encouragement. I don’t love the multitasking. I don’t love all the problems coming at me at once. I’d like to work with people one on one, have a conversation. I’ve always wanted to try home health nursing. Maybe this is the year to try?
    I know a couple of home health nurses..I think they both love it…better than the clinical settings, etc. remind me to show you that sledge hammer trick…I can even teach you how to do it.DM

  5. Laura says:

    I love the labor rates sign, so true! Sometimes it’s just easier to do things yourself.

    With my job — I hate that I’m in a cube all day, but love that I have a window. I would much rather be out in the garden or with the animals doing manual labor, but I love that my job provides me the financial security to have the garden and animals. The M-F grind definitely makes me appreciate the weekends, but affords me little time to relax. I have so many projects, it is tough to fit them in 2 days a week. Someday!
    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Laura! I know that feeling of trying to squeeze a lot into a few days…I have one of those weekends coming up, starting tomorrow 😉 DM

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