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The Mercenary's Advice

August 9th, 2006 at 06:31 pm

During the summer, a few college kids return to the Souk to earn a couple of bucks while classes are out. One of these is a buddy of mine named Josh. He's one of those scary-smart people: the kind that will stop mid-way through a knock-knock joke to make a comment about postcolonialism's effects on tofu. He's taken about 1 bazillion shifts, so I see him a lot lately. He's a good student and a good worker.

Anyway, Josh was telling me about how two other wenches (Irene and Alexa) were playing a trick on our supervisor by making calls to each other and pretending to be a customer looking for llamas. This allowed one of the girls to leave her stall and goof off somewhere else in the Souk.

My response: high dudgeon.

Why? Because it's annoying, immature and more importantly, when they goof off, I end up pulling some of their weight. At the end of the day, we've got to clean up the Souk, so you can imagine how I feel after scooping up more than my fair share of llama poop after hours on my feet. Not to mention that the manager got mad at me when she couldn't find the two of them.

So we're mucking out stalls, I'm frothing at the mouth about slackers and Josh stops me in the middle of the rant to blow my mind with this statement: it's pointless for me to work as hard as I do.

So I pick up the tails of my rant and start frothing again about work ethics, responsibility and personal integrity and Josh stops me again with: you don't get rewarded here by working hard - in fact, you get punished.

So I'm getting totally offended here because of course it's important to work hard: if you're going to do a job, do it right. I'm lucky to have the job at the Souk, for all my complaints. It's helping me get out of debt, and I get a discount on camels, plus free martinis before 9 am.

But then Josh says: If you're going to work hard, you need to correlate your effort with your pay. That doesn't happen at the Souk. It doesn't matter if you sell 10 llamas or 10,000 -- you get the same paycheck. Not only that, everyone else around you gets the same pay as you. Think about it. The only people who benefit from your extra effort and sales are the investors. You don't get anything.

So while the mushroom cloud in my head was settling and as I was on the floor picking up the remaining pieces of my brain, Josh kicks me while I'm down and says:

If you worked more for yourself, and put even a little of the effort into that as you did here, you would probably do better. If your work is successful, -you- get the benefit.

And Josh points out that yes, while we are both scooping the poop; he's using the money to help defray school costs, which is helping him succeed in his career. We both point out the merits of using the Souk to achieve my financial goals, and the fact that as a job, it's not a bad one.

But Josh makes a knock-out punch and concludes his sermon: take a look at the long term goals and invest in yourself at least as much as someone else.

I've been mulling his words (and coddling my bruised ego) and today, I saw a post that reinforced his words.

So my homework? Think of the value I can provide and what it might be worth. Not to be afraid to put my skills on the open market. And to put my foot in Irene's behind the next time I see her on the telephone.

2 Responses to “The Mercenary's Advice”

  1. miclason Says:

    yeah...I've been thinking about that a lot lately...what with the entrepreneurship contest and all...I must admit it makes so much sense for me to start my own business...but, basically, I'm afraid of the many commitments (debts and bills) that I have...
    But, I will take the "safe" road and, go to the seminar and try to start my business part-time, until I reach a point when it makes sense to let go off my "safe" job and go full out (I can do this, since my business would be translation services, so I don't expect to have enough work to go into it full time at the beginning...)

  2. StressLess Says:

    Interesting posts, both yours and the one you linked to. Reminds me of a movie I just watched, called Off the Map. Sam Elliott plays the father in a very self-sufficient little family living out in the desert. He had a great line--I should have written it down... something like, working at a job just takes time away from learning to do things for yourself.

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