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Saturday, February 23, 2008

I've been workin' on the railroad, not quite all the live-long day. Actually, I haven't worked at all. Pay me, please.

Rob & Tina had an excellent observation about the way many people here seem to feel about work:

So, the way I see it is that there are a select few people in town that need money and want to work. Everyone else simply wants money, and if they HAVE to work to get it, so be it, but it's on THEIR terms.

This is what I've been thinking for the past eight years, except that I wasn't able to sum it up nearly as coherently. I moved Up There less than a year after I graduated, and I couldn't believe the number of jobs that were available for the pickin', but nobody would pick them. Steve and I are from the east coast, where you take any job anybody will offer you and where fifteen bucks an hour is a good wage. If you're lucky enough to get a job, you work hard. It would never occur to you to show up only on days you felt like working.

Attitudes are slightly different here. OK, they're a lot different. If you don't feel like working, you just don't show up. Your employer can't do anything about it, because everyone else seems to feel the same way.

Does this sound crazy? That's because it is.

Newfoundlanders are known around here as the hardest-working people a boss can hire. I think it's because we come from a place where it's just expected that you'll work if you're lucky enough to get a job.

There are so many jobs here that nobody's ever had to worry that they won't get one. It's just a given: if you want to work, there will be a job for you. My brother-in-law used to be a substitute teacher at the high school Up There, and one day he came home and told us that he'd tried to talk the kids into taking school seriously because they would need to get jobs soon. They told him that they didn't need to study or to know anything at all, because they were guaranteed jobs in the oil & gas industry.

It's pretty depressing, isn't it?


The Capitalist said...

What's depressing is the fact that I spent 7 years and 70k getting a degree when I could have come here & been making 75k/yr without the education (I'm down ~half a the math). In this neck of the woods it takes a smart man to get a degree, but an even smarter man to NOT get one...

Karen said...

I come from a place where education is its own reward. I have often said that if I ever won a lottery, I would spend the school year taking classes I was interested in, and summers traveling. I think this is why I have changed careers every decade or so (I'm on #3, but this one looks to be sticking pretty well). I seem to get bored easily and need a new challenge.

So, yes, many folks work if and when they feel like it, but what kind of a life is that, really? Just doing whatever earns a check seems kind of hopeless, in the overall scheme of things.

It's like Albert Brooks' character said in Broadcast News, to the class bully, who has evidently graduated at the bottom of the high school class and aspires to nothing bigger: "You'll never know the pleasure of a well-crafted sentence, and you'll never earn more than 30 thousand dollars a year." To which the bully replies "30,000 a year? COOL!"

Some folks have no vision of what they could be, and no ambition to find out. That's their loss more than ours.

Nicole said...

"Attitudes are slightly different here. OK, they're a lot different. If you don't feel like working, you just don't show up. Your employer can't do anything about it, because everyone else seems to feel the same way."

If I wouldn't know that you are not in Kuwait, I would have thought you talk about the situation over here.

Here even government workers don't show up if they don't feel like it ;)

Rob, Tina and the boys said...

You're right. Being from the east coast I am still beyond floored with the attitude up here, and the number of jobs. 20.00 / hr is the normal wage (at least out here) for jobs that in my opinion people should be fighting for. I was subbing at the school (I have **NO** teaching experience) and although I loved being with the kids, I have found an even easier job. My sister is in halifax right now struggling to find a full time job that pays more than 8.00 /hr and I am up here making 20.00 / hr to read a book / watching a movie / drink coffee/ pay solitaire, because no one wants to do it.