The Tale of My 60 year Work History
Young kids today, not only can't find jobs, many of them don't even want them. With liberal protectionism eliminating the potential for young kids (under 17) to gain work experience, we have deprived them of one of the most critical learning experience of Life!
Look at the Bernie Sander's rallies! Young people are screaming in support, not of the man, but all the free stuff he is offering. They aren't screaming for the opportunity to Work, earn money, they are screaming for free stuff!
Kids can't work, even if they wanted. They are prohibited from those jobs that made America Great because of liberal protectionist insanity. Kids need to work to prepare them for their future. They need to work for self worth and pride of accomplishment. They need to work because parents can't afford to fund them without going into massive debt.
Kids Need to work to help pay for college and continuing education. The loans that liberals almost force on them will keep them in debt worse than the indentured slaves of centuries past.
Kids need to work to be able to understand how to take orders well before they enter the work force expecting to give them. Liberal education has mislead the youth of America into believing that the World somehow owes them a living. That is NOT how the World Works.
In The Beginning – Working from Youth to Senior Citizen
I'm now over 70 years old and have been working continuously, at one thing or another, since I was 10 years old. That's 60 years in the labor force!
10? You say, yes, I started delivering 'free newspapers' in Ecorse Michigan then at about 11 started a TV Guide route. Bet you never knew TV Guide was that old or that it was offered as home delivery for 15 cents a copy! I learned early how to count by 15's. I think I earned 4 cents a copy when I sold them.
I soon learned what working was like. The newspaper was a weekly, so was the TV Guide, so I still have plenty of 'play time' available. I soon loved to have my own money (I never got an 'allowance'; I was too proud because I was earning my Own money). Soon, I wanted more, more comic books and more other 'stuff'. I got my first Detroit Newspaper route when I was 12. I had to BUY it from another kid for $100, which my father loaned me $25, I had saved the rest.
The margin was much better on a daily newspaper route. I rode my bike about 4 miles to the paper station, picked up my papers, folded them and strapped them on my handlebars and road about 6 miles to my route. I think I had 65 customers. I was make real money now!
I learned that a newspaper route was a real responsibility and rain or shine, sick, tired or just not feeling up to it was no excuse. Like the postman, the newspaper must be delivered! I had a responsibility to my customers and I loved having my own money.
Back then, it seems wonderful. Lots of my friends didn't or couldn't find a job. I always had money in my pocket and others were envious just a bit. I was 13 and a businessman!
It wasn’t all money and roses. It gets COLD in Michigan and sometimes you can't ride a bike in 2 feet of snow; still the papers must be delivered. I had an afternoon route and my Dad was at work and we only had one car, so no bike meant a long walk!
Walking those miles in the snow to the station, to my route and delivering the papers (to the door so they didn't get wet) was tough. But damn, my legs got strong, my back stronger and my sense of pride continued to grow. I got to know my customers, especially when I went round to 'collect' (usually weekly) and knocked on their doors every Saturday morning. You see, you had to purchase the papers then the margin was your profit! It is always about ROI!
Like I said, I grew up 'downriver' of Detroit Michigan in Ecorse; right on the Detroit River. When it got time for High school, my Dad had me take an entrance exam for his Alma Mater, University of Detroit. They had a High School associated that was staffed by Jesuit Professors. I got in as did one of my best friends, Jim Monte. The trouble was that the school was about 18 miles away.
Each morning my Dad would drive Jimmy and me to a bus stop in River Rouge (about 8 miles) where we picked up a city bus for the ride to 7-Mile Road (about 12 miles); then we walked to the school about ½ mile; not bad really.
Each afternoon, Jim's brother would pick us up at the bus stop and take us home. I'd get home in time to rush to the paper station and pick up the evening edition, peddle my bike (on the non-snowy days) and make it back home in time for dinner.
That school was TOUGH and the Jesuits were tougher still. Remember they were college professors in their regular jobs for the most part. The demands were high and it took a lot of homework just to make decent grades. But I really Learned How to Learn!
Worked out great for a year and a half when my Dad was transferred to Terre Haute Indiana.
Real Hard Work
We moved to Indiana and one of the first things I did, after we got settled in a nice new home, was find the local paper station and buy a route. I had gone a while with no income and that hurt; big time!
That worked out for the next couple of years just fine. Afternoon routes were the best for school/work/home. My route was only about 6 miles from our house and the paper station about 5 so it was pretty doable. Winters weren't as bad in Indiana! That helped a bunch too!
When I got my driver's license at 17, it was great. Sunday's are always tough because of the size of the papers (now not so much). Advertisements, comic pages etc, really bulked up the paper. Dad let me use our station wagon on Sunday deliveries. I worked a deal with four other carriers where I'd drive all the routes and they would throw the papers. The wagon had a drop down back/hatch they could stand on. One on each side and the third guy would feed them the papers and they would throw as I drove down the middle of the street at 5 am. Today we would be arrested!
When I turned 17, more opportunities opened up. My Dad worked for a steel mill operation and the summers were their busy time. They usually closed down mostly in the Winter months, but Summer it was 24 X 7 operations. Not ashamed to use a bit of parental influence, I got a summer job as a laborer and joined the National Steel Workers Union!
Working in the Steel Mill
I thought those snowy/rainy days were rough with a paper route. Wrong, I was about to find out what a Real Job was like. Being a kid, working in a steel mill with tough guys was no picnic. The foreman knew my Dad but that only made him more critical; not nasty but he made sure I never embarrassed my Father; at least the first few weeks.
Being the low kid on the seniority list, gave you the worst of the worst available jobs and the lowest paying. Still I was making REAL adult wages and that was GREAT. I swept floors, ran errands and toted/fetched for the first month or so of the Summer. I realized that afternoons paid a bit of a premium and weekend work was time and a half! Lots of the men had families so didn't like weekend work so I was always first in line for that.
I wasn't qualified for much, but I was a quick learner and the word spread. As a Union Shop, all open jobs had to go up for 'bid'. As I said I worked all around, sweeping floors and got to know a lot of the men. They loved showing 'the kid' what they did, I learned a LOT.
My favorite helper job was a paint line (no use explaining it) and the older guy (probably 50?), John, befriended me. His son, worked a steel rolling line adjacent and they were some of the highest pay rate jobs in the mill. Well John would let me do a lot; actually instead of helping he trained me to do most everything. He would sit and watch, sipping his 'coffee', which had a strange aroma..., never to be discussed (Jim Beam I think).
Well, when John was ready for his Summer Vacation, he told me to bid the job. He said others wouldn’t sacrifice their current bids for a two week stint on the paint line and most didn't really understand viscosity measurements and the chemical mixes; but he made sure I did!
Long story short, when John went on vacation or was out sick, I got the paint line job which paid four times my regular rate! Do you say loving the money?!
The mill slowed down in the Winter months, only working day shifts. Still they produced finished products that were shipping out constantly. When it was time to return to high school, I looked for another opportunity. As I said, my job as low man on the totem pole, had me working all over the place; wherever they needed a crap job done, I was there. During that time, I got to know the Chief Security Guard, talking to him on breaks. He said they needed some weekend and evening help when the plant was closed to weigh trucks picking up loads and walking security rounds (punching the clock – literally).
I asked for the job and he said he would try me out. Well that worked and I had a nice paying weekend job with 4 hours each weekday night. The job was mostly sitting around so I could study and even watch TV in the truckers lounge (if the bosses weren't around!). I was making real money!
My first Car
No young man likes driving the family station wagon around, especially as a Senior. So I wanted to buy a car; my very first one. Dad, ever supportive, said we could see his cousin, a car dealer, the next time we drove up to Michigan to visit the Grandparents. Worked for me.
I ended getting a little Peugeot. It was yellow with red wheels and burned as much oil as it did gas I think but I loved it. I think I paid $350 for it, tax title and license. I drove that little thing in the snow and rain to school, to events and yes, even on a few dates (few and far between).
My Next Cars
Upon graduating from High School in Terre Haute, I enrolled in Indiana State University. It was convenient and I could live at home. I continued to work as a night watchman and weekends at the steel mill and summers I raked it in, now having some viable experience. They called me 'Slick' as I was usually covered in paint!
I traded in my little yellow car for a nice new 1964 Volkswagen Beetle. Great mileage, even though gas was still under 50 cents/gal. That lasted me about 8 months until a bus sideswiped me and I rolled it!
Figuring bigger was better, I upgraded, with the insurance money and savings, to a 1965 Chevy Biscayne, six cylinder manual shift. Much bigger and way better at the drive in! It was beige with a red interior. I kept that car for over 8 years, clocked about 300,000 miles before trading it in.
College and Beyond
When it was obvious that I was running out of money, paying the high hourly fees at Indiana State University, I had to seek an alternative. It never entered my mind that I wouldn't get some sort of degree.
I discovered that Texas State Colleges were virtually FREE. So I packed up my 1965 Chevy and headed to Houston. I got a job in a grocery store, got a Texas driver's license and established my Texas residency. BAM, I was a Texan.
It too me 7 years but I finally graduated from the University of Houston, totally debt free and working full time in a career that I still practice today. Funny how things work out.
As I said in the opening, I am now over 70 years old. We own our home, free and clear, and I am sort of semi-retired; but only because no one wants to employ an old fart consultant. I know too much!
I've always worked and just wouldn't know what to do if I didn't. I have started and currently sort of run companies involved in IT/Tech, Web Services and Healthcare with my lovely and talented wife Chef Nancy.
Since we plan to live to 130 and beyond, I figure I still have a lot of work to do and look forward to exploring opportunities long into our future. Heck, the way I figure it, I'm just middle age so why not!
Note: in grade-school, I really did walk a mile, often in the snow, to/from school each day!
Skip Stein is an IT Business Consultant and President of Management Systems Consulting, Inc., based in Orlando, Florida. He is COO of Whole Foods 4 Healthy Living with his lovely wife Chef Nancy and manages several ancillary/supporting business enterprises.