A Means to an End

November 12, 2018 1:03 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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Mark Twain, that 18th century provider of good stories and better quotes, is credited with having said Find a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Good advice if youre lucky enough to succeed in your effort to heed it. Universities are full of students attempting to do just that – get an education that will help them get a job doing what they like. Some will succeed. For those of us not fortunate enough to get paid well to do what we love, we may have to learn to love what we do and embrace it as a means to an end.

In early September, I contacted 3 companies whose work entails building fences and gates, in the hopes of finding someone to do such work before frost sets in. The first came to look and promised to deliver a quote, and eventually, after repeated calls and emails, did so, offering a price that a generation ago would have purchased the whole property. (My tone is meant to infer envy not criticism!) The second was professional and courteous, but informed me that he was currently booking jobs for next June. The third, didnt return my calls at all. Building fences and gates may not be glamorous work, but apparently, like many trades, there seems to be more work than workers.

“there seems to be more work than workers…”

Several weeks later, I happened into a conversation with an erstwhile work colleague. In the ensuing reacquainting conversation I learned that his son, now in his early 20s, was working as an industrial caulker, working on the exteriors of apartment and other large buildings. My first thought was here is a man who will never be unemployed. My hunch was confirmed by my friend. Caulking may be even less glamorous than fence and gate building, and that is great news for those willing to do it.

Canvas a third grade classroom and I would venture a bet, youll be a long time asking before you find a little boy or girl who dreams of growing up to be a fence builder, or building caulker. It is natural enough for children to be idealistic. But canvas the 20,000 students at the University of Guelph and, (Im extending my bet) youll incur similar results. It stands to reason then, that the laws of supply and demand will apply to the labour market and smile favourably upon those willing to do those jobs, and others like them. They may have fallen short of Twains advice, but if falling short means youre well paid and never unemployed, perhaps more of us should aspire to it.

Thanks for reading,

Jeff Neumann