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The World of Paid Work

May 1, 2023

Another Way for week of April 21, 2023

The World of Paid Work

Sometimes I can barely believe that after having a paid job for over 43 years, I now get to be my own boss. I still do some freelance writing (such as this column) and receive remuneration for the writing, but other than that, we no longer work the 9-5, or in my case, the 8-4 and in my husband’s case, the 5 a.m. till whenever. He had many six-day weeks and some seven-day weeks.

I had a reduced work week for most of my years as we were raising our family, and I liked that so much I never went back to a 40-hour week. I worked half time until our daughters were all in school, and then I worked 24-32 hours. Even after they left home, I always took off Friday afternoons (officially that was a 36-hour week for my main employer) which was a nice respite to do errands or extra cleaning if we were having guests. I also worked my “second job” publishing a quarterly magazine called “Valley Living” with a team of three other part-time workers.

Can you guess–or imagine–how old this photo is?

For many of us, our working hours make up a full third of our lives, or more. While I desperately wish everyone could have jobs they enjoy, unfortunately there are many jobs that are dirty, involve working with butchered animals, working outside in inclement weather, working with dangerous materials, women and men working all night at a hospital—hard, difficult shifts.

One of my favorite pictures of my husband as we worked in 2020 to finish a wood shed.

Centuries ago, most work was centered around the home: cottage industry. Not always fun or safe work either, but at least children could be cared for by their parents and children would learn from little up the jobs that they could do to help. As a farm girl, I was lucky to have a Mom who worked at home and on the farm while we were all growing up. Daddy bore the brunt of the farm work and he soon nabbed the second daughter born as a ready helper: she loved to escape to the barn (and pet and play with the kittens or cats) rather than get stuck dusting the living room.

We all helped inside and outside on the farm and Dad couldn’t have been happier when their fourth baby was a boy! That little boy not only grew up working hard on the farm but became a fine fix-it guy and later a heavy-duty mechanic for Caterpillar when Dad sold off his farm in north Florida. My most unusual job was helping one summer at the mobile home factory Dad and three others began in the 70s, drawing variations on blueprints for their standard mobile homes. 

It was my farm background that helped me be open to marrying a factory worker who, (at the time I met him) wore a hairnet at work as required at the various poultry plants that dot our valley in Virginia. Some of my friends from college quietly wondered why I was dating a “local yokel.” That hurt him and me a little, but mostly we haven’t looked back and he always encouraged his daughters to get a good education so they wouldn’t have to do the kinds of work he did. He needed to retire early (62) because by that time, his legs, feet, and ankles were wearing out. Thankfully he was always inclined to mostly sock away his raises into a retirement account, to help us plan for a comfortable retirement.

We now enjoy volunteer work such as here: sorting eye glasses with other retired Lions Club members.

I always remember the Bible school verse we learned in the second book of Thessalonians: “Work with your own hands.” The longer part of that passage, verses 11-12 is even more meaningful: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

Now it is time for me to get to my other work here at home! Have a good day or weekend!

Have you graduated from the world of a paid job?

Share your work experiences? Hobbies? Volunteer jobs?

Comment here or write to me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email

Sorry this is so belated! It appeared in papers earlier. We were happily traveling to spend time with grandkids, a sister and her family, and more. The sweet side of retirement.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

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