Skip to content

The World of Work

September 7, 2018

Another Way for week of September 7, 2018

The World of Work

If you’re employed, Labor Day is basically just the last of summer’s three paid holidays, nicely spread out.

I got to thinking seriously about our national labor force as the manager at a box store sat entering the details of my custom blinds order. The manager—the top dog at Home Depot was doing this mundane detailed work that an employee should have been doing. Meanwhile as he waited for the computer to spin he was fielding calls from all over his store: so and so called in absent; what should I do about such and such cash register? The accommodating young man who had tried to wait on me had also called the manager to help because he didn’t yet know the particulars of ordering.

The manager completed the deep detail parts of my order before turning the transaction back to the young man to handle the more routine parts. I told the manager sympathetically, “You need more help here.”

He responded with a grimace, “No, what I need is for the people we have hired to come to work!”

I hear things like this all the time about how today’s younger workers don’t have the work ethic of their parents or grandparents. I hate to paint generations with too broad of brush and usually give people a generous benefit, doubting the factual nature of such statements. But some quick true stories:

  • The warehouse my husband retired from after working 30 years used to be considered a great place to work with deep appreciation for employees, expressed through bonus plans and awards, elaborate and fun company picnics, trips and great Christmas parties. Now all those perks are gone, partly because of hard times. The company now has trouble keeping people; temps are hired and they leave just as quickly.
  • A 70-year-old man was lying on the floor in our kitchen when I got home from work the other week. He was installing a new motor in our older model refrigerator, which he said would last much longer than any fridge we could buy today in a typical big box store. He has spent his life lying on kitchen floors fixing refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and more but said his kind is a dying breed: “The young people don’t want to do this kind of work. They would rather sit behind a computer.”
  • An article in our local paper featured a dog trainer, Lawrence Frederick, who performs with his dogs catching frisbees (and related tricks) all over the world. He said he’s not inclined to hire helpers/trainers much younger than their early 30s, because “many don’t have the work ethic or the ability. It looks like fun, but it is work.” His team of 13 dogs and nine contract dog handlers work from morning until bed time walking the dogs, cleaning up after them, feeding them, and then practicing or performing every three hours. Hard work for the dogs, and the humans, and I found it revealing that the youngest he has hired is 33—because of the work discipline thing (“Furry High-Fliers” by Tom Crosby, Daily News Record, August 25, 2018).
  • We enjoyed eating out with neighbors celebrating their anniversary recently. This was not a fancy place, and I’m sure the waitstaff only make modest wages and tips. But our very kind, friendly, and excellent waitress—probably late 50s—said she likes people and therefore enjoys her job; her mother always told her how much of a privilege it is to wait on people and serve them. Old-fashioned? Maybe. But real.

I know my readers here are mostly of the 40 and up generation, and you may have your own stories. I’d love to hear them. How can we encourage our kids and grandkids to learn the joy of work well done and the satisfaction of working with our hands—and minds?


What comments have you heard about enjoying work?

Have you taught your children the privilege of working?

Send stories or ask for a free booklet, “Work Therapy.” Contact me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  


  1. Elaine permalink

    Interesting. My husband and I were just talking about this tonight…again… We are a small business owner and hear this over and over. I said, “do you think there’s something in the water or food that’s causing their will to care or work to be taken away.” 🙂 (I have a suspicion electronics and social media play a big part in this).

    Our daughter and son have good work ethics (born in the 70’s) and they struggle to keep their kids motivated, but we see good signs that there is hope of them becoming responsible young adults. 🙂 I truly believe they will.

    • Your last paragraph sounds encouraging and hopeful! Your “do you think there’s something in the water or food” was mostly joking but that would make an interesting novel–or maybe it’s aleady been written! Thanks for chiming in, Elaine.

  2. My illustration is morbid and true: In May my sisters and I ordered and paid for a monument for our brother. Early on, I got excuses and apologies from the funeral director with whom we placed the order. Apparently he was covering for the engraving company: I got an email from their manager last week saying that the workers are slow and implying (I think) that they had a lax work ethic. They have yet not sent final proofs. “The ground may be frozen before the tombstone would be installed,” (the manager’s final comment.)

    On a more positive note: our older grandsons are freshmen in the International Baccalaureate program. Simultaneously, they are on a cross-country team, getting up early in the morning and after school to run trails. Curtis continues with soccer and mows our lawn regularly. No grass is growing under their feet!

    • Two illustrations showing both sides–I’m sure there have always been slackers and great achievers within the same generation! I am so sorry about your brother’s delayed memorial stone. I know my father’s took awhile too if I’m remembering correctly. But how frustrating. Thanks for your stories as always, Marian.

  3. I’m laughing as I read this. Not laughing because of your post, which unfortunately is very true – albeit there are exceptions. My laughter is about my own attitude. I see myself sitting in a chair, raising my cane high in the air for emphasis — “Why in MY day….”
    No, I don’t have a cane. But there are times where I see myself as I’ve crossed over the the other side of the generation gap. Fortunately both my sons are good employees with a great work ethic and I hope they are able to pass that along to their young sons also.

    • I hear you on feeling like a “back in my day” grandma! Glad you could get a laugh as well. I truly do feel there are many many young adults today in their 30s and 40s who do indeed work very hard, and they even did when they were in their 20s. Thanks for sharing your response!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Jennifer Murch

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. -Twyla Tharp

Trisha Faye

Cherishing the Past while Celebrating the Present


To walk or tramp about; to gad, wander. < Old French - trapasser (to trespass).

Tuesdays with Laurie

"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan

Hickory Hill Farm

Blueberries, grapes, vegetables, and more

The Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ

The Website & Blog of David D. Flowers

Cynthia's Communique

Navigating careers, the media and life

the practical mystic

spiritual adventures in the real world

Osheta Moore

Shalom in the City

Shirley Hershey Showalter

writing and reading memoir

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

mama congo

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.


Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

Roadkill Crossing

Writing generated from the rural life

%d bloggers like this: