Monday, May 08, 2006

The First Job

My son starts work today, after school. He got himself a job, with the help of a friend of his, picking rocks from a farmer's field. He and several other teenagers will work at the farm each night, until the job is done, and all of the rocks are safely out of the way of plows and other farm equipment.

It will be hard work. It will be a perfect first job: hard, physical labour, with no complicated rules or schedules to remember. I'm glad. Every kid should find out first hand what it is to work at physical labour. I'm curious to see how this will work out for my son. I told him to make very sure that he works at least as hard as everyone else, and harder if he can manage it. I can't stand people who do just as much work as is necessary to avoid termination, and not one tiny bit more.

As an comparison of relative worth, this exercise is a bit silly. For my son to earn his $35.00 or so in an evening, my wife or I will have to pick him up after he finishes work -- approximately an hour's drive for the return trip. After the cost of fuel, wear and tear on the vehicle, the time that could have been spent doing something else, the exchange is uneconomic. But the experience for my son is what counts. He will work hard and make some money through his own exertion. I should probably make the entire project as much like real life as possible, by making him pay for the transportation costs, but even I don't have the heart to do that.

Maybe he will be thoughtful enough to buy me a coffee and a doughnut sometime. That gesture, and the lessons he will have learned from the experience, will be payment enough for me.


  1. Hi

    Maybe the lesson he should learn is the it is better to negotiate a fee with the farmer and then employ his friends to do the hard labour while he earns his fee by supervising them

    I would recommend that uses some of his profits to buy a pair a good gardening gloves.
    Maybe if you charged him a commercial rate for the services that you provide, he may learn a truly valuable lesson.

  2. Interesting points, anonymous. We think alike. In this case, his friend is actually 'top dog' because he was the one who assembled the work crew. For the moment, I'm happy to have my son work and earn money aside from what he does for me at home. His regular chores are the 'price of admission,' so to speak, as his part of the family responsibilities. Certain things that I would normally pay someone else to do, I pay him for as well. When I do, I pay him based on time expended, but moderate the amount by the quality of his work. That has sometimes translated to a very low hourly rate. Pay based on merit is what I want him to understand. He is, thankfully, learning the lesson. After raking grass clippings from our 2/3 acre lot a few times, and being paid a palty $2 or $3 for his efforts because he left half of the clippings behind, he got the message. Now, he is more careful and does a much better job.

    He and I discuss the intricacies of capitalism often - contracting for service, delivering on time and on budget, accepting responsibility when something goes wrong, etc., and he has a pretty good handle on that.

    At age 13, though, he still has a lot to learn.

  3. If he's getting paid cash, get him ready for the future:
    Teach him to set aside 60% of the jack for federal, state & local taxes - 70% for white males of European desent.
    The RCs (Republican "Conservatives", Roman Catholics or remote controllers, take your pick. Same thing.) have basically gift-wrapped and handed the U. S. government to HITLERyClit and her leftist socialist pals. Once they inflict Canadian taxes on America, yours will be going higher as well.
    The storm clouds gather once more.

  4. The post made me smile, the comments made me laugh.


    You know.. rock picking was my very first job, too. But, I was three. And, I didn't get paid.


    Good for him! And, you!

  5. My son has heard me gripe about taxes and the nanny state and the involuntary servitude that results. More and more people are investing elsewhere now, where there are fewer regulations and lower taxes.

    Strangely, I have never picked rocks. I have slung hay and straw bales, though, when I was my son's age. Great work for teenage boys wanting to give their muscles a workout. In later years, I worked on construction, as a janitor, driving a coffee truck, driving a cement truck, washing dishes, selling clothes, selling shoes, all as summer jobs. I regret none of it. Cleaning toilets is a great way to learn to appreciate the value of money.

  6. I've cleaned toilets, too. In fact.. I still do. lol!

    I love your attitude, Atavist! You are inspiring.

  7. Hello Sieg: I just wanted to say
    hello, for I read some of your posts, having arrived by a very circuitous path: some political article, to a blog by a lonely Nepalese guy in NYC, to a comment from an Indian woman to here; still
    not sure how I got here. Anyway, I was intrigued by your tagline of "Why"?" ...anyway, I skipped around on several of your posts and found them all to be rather interesting--thought of commenting on some of your political ideas, which were generally lucid, but I kept thinking to myself, "that's good, oh, but he's missing this one idea that would pull it all together...." (I realize that I'm being either tantalizing or, perhaps, annoying), but how can one comment on all of these thoughts? Maybe I'll have to come back another time and just pick one. But I did jump to a 2004 one about God and your son, and, for
    whatever it's worth, I think he was right in many ways:

    "With us and the animals and everything else in the universe, God has something to watch to keep from getting bored.”

    "Let’s leave aside for the moment the issue of whether there is, in fact, a God who created us and rules us and accept your implicit belief that He exists."

    Maybe you resolved this issue on a later blog (and sorry for responding to it here--didn't know if you check comments from posts of two years ago), but I (who subscribe to no religion) offer this humble insight: the mistake for both of you is believing that there is a God (or as I prefer: "infinite being") that is separate from us. In fact, IMHO, we ARE God, and God is us. If I may, God is the ocean, and we are all drops in the ocean: we think we are separate and unique (which we are), but we are also part of the big ocean which is Infinite Being. Or, another analogy, we are all snowflakes, unique and individual, and God is a field of snow or God is the Sun and we are all sunrays etc. Anyway, to your son's point (thanks for sticking with me here) we are all part of infinite being, and the big picture is that Infinite Being (God) experiences its own creation thru each of us....well, hope this was in some way clear; I just wanted to say hello, you seem like a cool guy, and I guess I just wanted to say I'm glad there's some interesting, thoughtful people out there in blogland. Peace and love. John

  8. Thanks, John, for your comment. It is amazing to me how people chance on things on the internet. I have done much the same as you did, followed links hither and yon, and ended up in some pretty interesting places.

    The whole religion thing for me boils down to faith. You either have it or you don't. I grew up in a very religious family where I grew to respect my parents' faith, but had some pretty big doubts myself, about the issue. With my son, I encourage him to explore and learn, but do not attempt to make up his mind for him. We have some very interesting discussions but I want to make sure that he makes up his own mind. Certainly, as I was growing up, I didn't want to be told what to think or what to believe.

    To me, there are other related questions that we all face. I am confronted with them often, because of ongoing discourse with my son. One such conversation led to an artcle of mine, at:, where as usual, I don't try to answer the question directly but try to help him sort things through and solidify his own thinking.

    I found your take on life and where we fit in, interesting and thoughtful. We all do what we can and try to puzzle things out, but at the end of it all, I wonder if it is all simply, to borrow a phrase from John Lennon, "Whatever gets you through the night, it's all right, it's all right."

    I wonder.

    Thanks for stopping by!