Just Glad To Have Paying Job

Maybe there’s hope for the younger generation, after all. Some of them seem to have the right attitude.

As the annual Wheeling Vintage Raceboat Regatta was winding up Sunday afternoon, one of the event’s officials told me he and a few others would be back at the Heritage Port site early on Labor Day.

They had to pick up the trash, he explained.

Gesturing to a young woman who, with a young man, had been picking up trash and emptying waste receptacles at the port, I asked why they didn’t take care of the task. I assume they were paid by the city.

They did well enough, I was told, but a number of raceboats would be left at the site overnight. There would be trash under them to be picked up Monday morning.

I asked the young lady about that. She didn’t realize there would be trash under the boats, she said. She and her co-worker would be back the next morning to take care of it, she added.

At least you’ll earn a few extra dollars, I said.

No, she responded. They wouldn’t be paid any more for coming back to work on the holiday. I thanked her profusely.

“No,” she said, “Thank you. Without festivals like this, we wouldn’t have a job.”

Imagine that. A young person doing what probably isn’t the most pleasant of jobs, asked to go out of her way to work beyond what she’d expected — and grateful simply to be able to earn a few bucks.

Take a look around. You see lots of help wanted signs, don’t you? That’s because many of the jobs to be filled are at low wages and often involve hard work.

Some young people turn their noses up at such opportunities to earn some money, build up a good work record, and improve their situations in the future.

Not my new friend — and I hope sincerely she is that.

How many are like her?

Take a moment and, in your mind, estimate the number of help wanted signs you seem to see all the time.

Now add up the number of teenagers you see working hard at fast-food restaurants. Add the number of college students who are part-time custodians and secretaries at their colleges. Think about how many kids in your neighborhood put flyers in your mailbox seeking work mowing grass, babysitting and doing odd jobs.

Then ponder how many kids go out of their way to help individuals and communities without seeking a dime in pay. Making the job easier for the regatta folks was a crew of about 20 Wheeling Jesuit University Wrestling Team members who volunteered to help — and worked like mules in carrying heavy buoy anchors and other equipment.

There are lots of them, more than we sometimes realize. So it would be wrong — “fake news” — to label everyone under, say, 21, as shiftless.

Does the current younger generation have a higher percentage of members than, say, mine, who feel entitled? Who think hard work is beneath them? Who think they ought to be earning six-figure salaries solely because they’re special? I honestly don’t know.

But I do know that cynicism can be the easy — and lazy — attitude. And I remember being told members of my generation were carting the world to hell in a handbasket.

We turned out fine, right?

Don’t answer that.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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