Growing Up

01.28.13

Yes, Kids Need 'Shitty' Jobs

Scott Adams wonders if having "truly unpleasant" jobs in childhood motivates people to achieve more in life. (H/T Sullivan).

What happens to a kid who has never experienced a truly shitty job? Will those kids have the same amount of career drive as the folks who have? I realize every generation has asked the same question. But what is different now is the amount of homework kids are getting. When I was in high school I never took a book home. I could polish off my meager homework during study hall. And while I didn't love schoolwork, I never had so much of it that I developed any kind of deep hatred for mental pursuits. But I imagine how different I might have felt if I had never experienced unpleasant manual labor - and lots of it - and instead was tortured with several hours of homework every night. I think I might have longed for a simpler future with no books and not so much thinking. In other words, I think the homework would have redirected me away from seeking a career in law or engineering and toward something that didn't require so much damned studying.

My childhood jobs were detassling seed corn and working at a lumberyard. The former meant trudging though fields while shivering from being soaking wet each morning. By day's end, you were bone dry, sunburnt and cut all over from corn burn. The latter entailed everything from hauling drywall, suffering tirades from contractors, stocking insulation, sweating through the summer, freezing in the winter, and knowing more about construction materials than I'll ever care to forget.

By comparison, being paid to write things on the internet is the greatest job of all time. There's no greater motivation than the thought of waking up sore all over every day for the rest of your life.