When I was a teenager, my old man offered me $20 bucks to help him knock out some chores around the house. Those chores typically consisted of outside manual labor. I don’t know why I had such a bad attitude about it considering I was going to make some much needed cash that I could use for a night out; movies, pizza joint, and arcade with my friends. You’d be surprised how far $20 went in the 1980’s. My father was a handy man and I cannot remember a time when he wasn’t working on one thing or another. In fact, he previously worked for a construction company but had to retire early, in his forties, because of an injury he sustained while working. He didn’t win a lawsuit or anything like that, so he had to find ways to make money and keep himself productive to continue contributing to the household finances. He may not have been hirable to companies not willing to take on the liability of hiring a person prone to further injury, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t know his own limitations. Nevertheless, he kept busy and continued to be gainfully self-employed.
Saturday was the day my dad would offer me opportunities to make some dough. One of the jobs that annoyed me the most was when my father had me throw junk away that he would bring home from the odd jobs he was contracted to work at during the week. I often complained, “But why do you bring all this junk home if you’re only going to have me throw it away or load it onto your truck so you can take it to the city dump? Why not just take it to the dump the day you collect it instead of bringing it home?” My dad just stared at me, incredulously, almost as if to say, “Are you being serious?” My old man never got mad at me for asking these type of questions. In fact, he saw them as opportunities to teach me a lesson. The fact that we stopped working to address my naïve comments gave me a much needed breather. My old man liked answering my questions with questions:
“Suppose I hired you for 3 hours’ worth of work. Would that interest you?”
“Sure. One hundred bucks for 3 hours? Of course.”, I said.
He continued, “Ok. Let’s say that I contracted you for those 3 hours to dig a hole for me that was say, 3 feet deep. Would you still be interested?”
“Yeah, I could do that.”
“Now let’s supposed you finished the work in 2 hours. You would still owe me an hours’ worth of labor, wouldn’t you agree?” he asked.
“Well, yeah. I guess I could do something else to meet our agreement.”, I answered, thinking this would earn me some points for integrity.
He said, “That’s a good attitude to have. How would you feel if I had you cover the hole back up for that hour?”
This confused me, “Why would you have me cover up the hole that took me 2 hours to dig?”
My father said, “What difference does it make? I’m paying you $100 for 3 hours of work. In the end, you would have dug up a hole, covered it back up, and walked away $100 richer. You accept work that you feel is worthy of the pay.” He went on, “You already know that I’m going to have you throw junk away for me every Saturday. And you know that every Saturday, you’ll earn $20 for doing so. You’ve agreed that the job I’m hiring you for is worthy of the wage I’ve agreed to pay you. Without the junk I bring home, you’d have no opportunity to make this money and you’d probably lose any chance you had to hang out with your friends at the movies. Don’t ever take work for granted. If you feel you can make more doing something else, then go find the work and put in the effort you’ve agreed to put into it.”
My dad only had to teach me this lesson one time. I never asked again why he paid me to do whatever he paid me to do. It was a blessing, no matter how you sliced it. That night, I got to enjoy watching Back to the Future, ate some amazing pizza, and scored the highest score of the day on Pac-Man. What more is there to life?
Authored by Omar T
Omar Tarango is a Freelance Author, Blog Contributor with RedCap Staffing, and Social Media Manager