Where’s My Work Ethic?

When I see how family, friends, and relatives have outstripped me in life, I look around and try to remember where I last put my work ethic. I think I had some in my glory days of blogging. I still stumble upon it when I find something interesting.

I don’t like regular work. I prefer an endeavor I can get passionate about. I’ve never done well at anything else. In short, I’m much more black than Mexican, let alone white or Asian or Jewish. Sigh. God made me this way.

I got fired from the first jobs I held (starting in sixth or seventh grade, working in some bloke’s garden). By high school, I managed to hang on to some positions, receiving mediocre marks.

I remember when I moved to Australia in June of 1984 to live with my brother for a year after graduating Placer High School in Auburn. I industriously went out looking for work only to find that nobody wanted to hire someone who was only going to be in the country for a year. So I stopped saying that truth and got a job as a stockhand for GJ Coles. As they began training me to become a manager, a friend of my brother’s, Michael Collins, got me the cleaning contract at the Boyne Island Shopping Center. This was beaut.

I didn’t like my Coles job because I had to work all the time under close supervision. With the cleaning contract, I didn’t have a supervisor. I had tasks and I did them. I’ve always worked best with the least supervision. Tell me what needs to be done and let me do it in my own way. The cleaning contract was great because it gave me more time to read. Instead of going out and looking for more cleaning tasks, I liked to enjoy long breaks reading the newspaper and various books.

I am only aware of one complaint made about my performance during the six months I had the contract. I wasn’t diligent one week about scrubbing the ladies toilet. Some of the shop owners would give me a hard time about spending so much time in my office reading instead of working. They also ribbed me for not spending money in their stores. I saved about $16,000 Australian that year, which translated into about $10,000US.

I got paid more for that job back in 1984 than I make today. I went home to California and earned about $4 an hour, just above the minimum wage. Over a couple of years, that rate went to $6 an hour, still less than a third of what I was making in Australia (but the purchasing power of those dollars was almost twice).

In June of 1985, I started work in landscaping. I found the first three days really hard. I hated them. Then on the fourth day, we went to the home of the late real estate developer Doug Hanzlick and he was just super! He recognized my accent as Australian. He was kind and considerate. I met his delightful daughter Becky. I had a wonderful time. And those personal interactions made me love my job for the next two years and two months.

When I started on my book project in 1995, and started blogging in 1997, there were no limits to how long I would work (aside from the rest requirements of Jewish law). When I’m interested in something, I can go all day, no problem.

I like jobs where I can do my own thing, have the least supervision, the most freedom, and plenty of opportunities to meet girls and to hang around people I like and respect. I like some novelty and challenge and I like to get plenty of attention for my efforts. Money is good too.

My family’s work ethic puts me to shame. When did I become such a bludger? Oh, about 48 years ago.

My sister has offered me a position as the mowing supervisor on her farm. People told my brother he needed quality help for his nursery. My brother pointed out that the “quality” bit disqualified me. When I see the people relations skills needed to be a nurseryman, let alone the knowledge, I sigh and realise it’s not for me. I’m not good at serving people.

I wonder if I could inherit Dr. Ford’s surgery practice?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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