Gratitude Sunday: Working Forward

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “If we want boys [all youth] to succeed, we need to bring them back to education by making education relevant to them and bring in more service learning and vocational education.” Michael Gurian, my italics

Sunday Haiku
Sun teases. Cold wind
blows warmth away, far away
from spring’s bright blossoms.

Sunday Musings
I value a good work ethic. Do you? What does a good work ethic mean to you?

Having worked all my adult and half my teen-aged life at several jobs, I’ve developed a list. Your list may vary. The current challenge is work is changing, jobs are changing, technology is changing work, and labor politics are changing. One still must have certain work ethics whether valued by the employer or not simply for one’s own dignity. Deep breath, it’s a short list.

Arrive on time and remain until your scheduled stop time. This includes when interviewing for a job.

Do your work. Be ready for work at your start and until end times, don’t hang around the water cooler, take excessive breaks, read Facebook, Tweet, or play golf when you should be working.

Make every attempt to get along with your co-workers, even if you are the boss. You don’t have to be friends, but be friendly.

I’m going to stop there with the basics. I was pretty much a fail at my places of employment, so I’m not really one to think I can advise. What strikes me though is the differences in my living history on how we go about getting jobs and what young people face today, especially young men.

Back in my youth, pre-internet pre-cell phone days, when we still had paper newspapers there was a thing called the jobs or employment column in the classified ads. You had to read the ads employers posted for job openings and they usually asked you to apply in person. You had to get yourself tidied up, and present yourself right off the bat, no résumé, no application, no screening. In small towns often you were applying with somebody’s parent you’d grown up with and everybody knew everybody already so filling the job was easy. Or store owners put a Help Wanted sign in the store window and anybody could stop in and ask for the job. If one was desperate enough, one went business to business asking for any kind of work, or even door to door asking to do housework or yardwork. Occasionally one could be lucky to be put straight to work, often as not manual labor, but that’s honest work.

All work is valuable if it puts money in your pocket. It might not be fun, (been there), and it might not be pretty (done that), but if you can pay the rent and feed yourself it has value. How we assign a hierarchy of value on work is more problematic. How a front line worker on her feet all day, running to keep up with the line of customers who verbally abuse her, denied bathroom breaks, is paid at the lowest end of the scale and can’t pay both the rent and afford food, is taxed at a high rate relative to a low income, and is so exhausted at the end of the day she can’t even cook dinner for her kids is looked upon as less valuable than a CEO who spends time moving money around so the corporation doesn’t pay taxes back into the system that supports it, and is paid millions of dollars annually to do so, confuses me. I digress.

Today jobs are posted on line. If you show up in person looking for work, employers and store owners alike look at you as if you are crazy and are likely to say, “Apply on-line.” Dozens or hundreds of people apply for the same job, even in small towns. We are screened, tested, and evaluated and all this even before they look us in the eye or give us a chance to do the job. Any challenges in past workplaces and it’s less likely you’ll be given a chance at a fresh start or in a different kind of work. One must have experience, but if you can’t get the job how do you gain experience? If you’ve had a poor experience, how do you work past that?

Then there are barriers to employment especially for the poor, which of course, one is trying to alleviate by getting work. Transportation is an issue if you can’t afford a car, or public transportation doesn’t go where you need to go. Many employers demand random part-time work schedules so workers can’t rely on public transportation to serve those hours, and it makes scheduling time for additional education or child care more difficult. You might be so hungry because of personal budget restraints you can’t concentrate on your work. You might be worried about your sick child and have no child care alternatives which can also affect your ability to concentrate or perform your job properly.

I see so many young people, especially young men, struggling to get employment and keep employment. They don’t have skills; public schools failed to connect for whatever reason, high school guidance for the last forty years has been college track based without regard to the many who are more suited for trade labor. We will always need electricians, plumbers, carpenters, welders, and mechanics. Young workers can barely read an application, they can’t write their own names in cursive, and haven’t a clue where to start with a résumé. They show up to interviews in torn jeans, dirty hair, hoodies, and fip-flops. They’ve all been told how special they are and think it’s all about them, and haven’t a clue how to work together. It’s not their fault. For the most part we don’t teach our youth how to get and keep employment; we barely manage the basics of block lettering in our current warehousing approach to public education (I’m not blaming teachers either; the failures in modern education is a different discussion). We have no transitions in place like interning, or shadowing, or apprenticeship to learn what the job entails and if it’s a good match. Some trades still provide paid apprenticeships, but I’ve read many of their complaints: they don’t mind at all teaching the skills of the trade or paying the apprentice while learning but the apprentice must bring the ability to read, follow instructions, and work as a team to the table, and that’s not what trades are getting from applicants right now. How sad is that, youth needing employment and not having the basic skills for it. Sad? Way past sad, we have failed our youth as a society. Reading, writing, and arithmetics. Basics.

If work is changing and skills are lacking how do we address that? We need our youth to succeed. It’s not just about computer skills. They are our future, the parents of our grandchildren. Despite the insistence of a president, whose personal reality is gold toilets and falsified asset statements, that we have the best employment in the history of the United States, reality is many young people aren’t getting the work they want or need. How will these young people buy homes, pay property taxes, build families, and contribute to their communities? We could look to history for clues to the future.

After WWI many youth were disenfranchised, and it became worse during the Great Depression. Our country needed work, our youth needed employment. FDR gave us the concept of the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933-1942. This program gave young unmarried men bed and board in exchange for work, while they were learning work skills. Much of America’s infrastructure of highways, bridges, water systems, and national parks were created by young men in the CCC. It could be time to revisit this idea. All those infrastructure improvements are more than 75 years old now and in need of repairing or replacing or updating with more modern materials and methods. The young men in the previous incarnation of CCC went on to be employable, marriageable, home owning, tax paying, decent, honest, hardworking, accountable American workers, our parents and grandparents. The program instilled in them a work ethic which they passed to their children and grandchildren.

I’m not saying our youth doesn’t work hard. They do. I’m saying they must be given opportunity and that doesn’t always include college.

We could also consider the idea of a year or two of required service for every American citizen. I maintain many of us do this already, work in service to the United States through our daily support by volunteering in our communities, but that often includes the luxury of an earned income that supports the wherewithal to volunteer. I’m not talking about military service as some of us would never be able to be in combat or kill another person in the name of “war.” This could look like service with work elements in connection to stewardship of our United States, maybe as part of national parks departments, or taking part as aides in congress, or service as aides in our vastly understaffed classrooms or hospitals. Give a stipend for time served, and subsidized living expenses during the service period, or provide temporary bed and board if relocation is needed, maybe even provide education on how government works. I haven’t thought much about the details of how this would function yet, but the point is when one spends time in stewardship, taking care of something, one values and understands it more. Service positions could teach skills, give work experience, and would be something one could use on a résumé, like military service.

Neither of these ideas will gain any credence with the current administration. They are corrupt and, with the grace of God, the Goddesses, and the energy of the Universe, will be voted out in November 2020, just 18 short months away. We have some needs and battles already in place like national health care, subsidized higher education tuition, fair wages, the end of insane housing costs, among others. But we must continue to think ahead because we can’t go door to door scaring the hell out of our neighbors asking to do their housework any more.

We’ll get there. New generations bring new ways of thinking. Old generations can build on old ways and learn from the new generations as well. We can do whatever we want when we figure out what we want. I want the employable to have work. I want the unemployable to have comfort and support. That right there looks like educational and employment opportunities to me. We could and should be creating vast opportunities in the health care and educational fields, but we are losing possibly interested people because we undervalue those jobs by not paying enough or making the scheduling of the jobs unstable.

You know my mantra as hard as it is for me to remember on a daily basis: Change is the only constant. We will never be “again” what we once were, but we can be better. We can remember what we’ve tried before, adapt those ways if they don’t work, and get back at it. It’s about consciously guiding our changes in progress, not just floating along. We can ride the waves, but eventually we must come ashore and take care of business on solid land. We must show up on time, do the work, and stay for the duration.

Color Watch
– colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week
– It’s the beginning of lilac season. Here in the Portland metro area of Oregon we get nearly a month of delicious fragrance and many shades of purple blossoms. Vivid yellow tulips. So many shades of pink this week. A neighbor captured some lovely pink and white bleeding hearts.

Photo by neighbor Tina Carlson

A dark pink old crabapple blossom, tree cut down last year, not many around any more. One of my favorite pink dogwoods. Spreading strawberry blossoms used as ground cover. Deep pink throated rhododendron.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Overboard (2018, rated PG – 13), with Anna Faris. This is the remake, and while roles were reversed and details cleverly changed, I wonder about the creativity of using most of the same script and the same lines. Though this version had its funny moments, the magic of the original is never recaptured in a remake; I advocate for innovation in remakes, at least not repeating the same lines. While this remake does not capture the magic chemistry of the original, but I can see how if one had not seen the original, one would think this was a fun and funny movie. * The Vanishing of Sidney Hall (2018, rated R), a brilliant teen-aged author suffers after writing a best-seller about a classmate who commits suicide, told in head spinning time jumps.

Currently ReadingPassing Strange (2017, fiction) by Ellen Klages (American author), magic, art, and mystery in 1940s queer San Francisco. Good summer reading. * Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger (2018, sociology) by Rebecca Traister (American author). Traister reminds us of recent history in relation to the history of the feminist movement in America, and uses examples of contemporary women and their experiences working toward change or running for office.


This week I have been grateful for:

  • The first of the season’s lilacs. I don’t have many blooming plants in my yard and this one is an heirloom from plants brought from Idaho by my paternal grandmother. I love them.
  • Hubster bringing in some lilacs to scent the house. He always beats me to it.
  • A quiet-ish night at the pool. It’s a public pool so I feel I mustn’t complain about sharing, I have no basis there, that’s not what I’m saying at all, and I do enjoy talking with other people as we do our workouts. But those nights when it’s quiet and only a few people are swimming are so calming and refreshing, a real treat.
  • Having both a public aquatic center and a local lending library system supported by my tax investments.
  • Understanding and recognizing scam phone calls and not falling for them.
  • Doing my housework in the middle of the night if that’s when I feel like doing it.
  • Spell checkers making my editing easier.
  • Old TV shows.
  • Re-watching movies I’ve seen before, remembering I enjoyed them before and noting whether I enjoy them now.
  • Reading. History. Current events. The vast variety and availability of information.
  • The energy and brilliance of youth.
  • The knowledge and steadfastness of age and aging.
  • All the fails from Easter supper getting eaten up anyway. Sometimes food is better the next day.
  • Receiving confirmation straight from the organization’s mouth that our local farmers market begins for the season this coming Wednesday. I need some local honey and some fresh greens. SOOO looking forward to it.
  • Creative leftovers that aren’t recognizable as leftovers so we eat up the leftovers.
  • Remembering my uncle’s leftovers soups and how good they were from week to week. Mine fail. It’s OK. I have other successes. Like quiches.
  • Everybody has something they can do. Like leftover soup. Or quiche.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Careers, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Work and Labor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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