All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


Get A Trade

I picked up my cell phone this morning and found I had a job offer waiting for me in my voice mail.  I hadn't put in for it.  I didn't even know they were looking for help. 

The job isn't based on my staggering good looks.  It's not based on my expensive private school education.  It's not based on my eclectic professional experiences.  It's based solely on my trade, and a little bit on past performance in another job.

I worked my way through high school and college.   Before I was 16, I worked at a golf course as a caddy.  One day the Country Club was getting ready for a big dinner event in the ballroom.  They were short handed and needed extra help.  I volunteered for the job along with another guy.  I was paid more money than I would have made hauling bags around in the summer sun and I was hooked.  I did a good job and they kept requesting me from the caddy shack when they were shorthanded.  Because the other boy was 16, they assumed I was too.  That gig lasted right up until they were going to put me on the payroll and discovered they were employing me illegally.  We won't get into allegations about a certain 14 year old youth being a cocktail waiter at a FOP banquet.

When I became of legal age to work, at least part time, I started "cooking" at a fast food joint.  Notice "cooking" is in quotes.  Mr. Burger, meet Mr. Grill, Mr. Fry's meet Mr. hot blend of animal fat and vegetable oil, is not cooking.  I was good at it and probably more importantly, I was fast.  I was also eager to work as many hours as I could and I liked closing the place.  Eventually they made me an assistant manager.

That served me well for the first couple of years in college.  I could bounce between a job at school and a job at home.  The pay was decent, at least it kept me in cars, gas and girls.  It made a significant contribution towards books and tuition too.  Three years running I took vacations in Europe and Central America.  Mom and dad felt obligated to keep a roof over my head, everything else at that point was on my own dime.

Then it happened.  I got a job with the college as a cook.  That was when I learned a basic irrefutable fact about my employment choice for the previous 4 or so years.  People look down on you if you work in food service.

I hated being looked down on.  I set my eyes on a respected, and I thought at the time, well paid profession.  Then I went back to work, back of the house, front of the house, behind the bar, it didn't matter to me, I was good at it and I was going to finish school so I could get a real job and be respectable.

Which is what I did.  Then life happened.  I was perusing my dream and hit a wall.  Not a problem, except kids, and wife and well... Well I put on my whites and sharpened my knives.  Jobs doing professional stuff aren't as easy to get as jobs doing just stuff. 

Because I did that over 5 years ago, and then only for a short time, someone called me this morning to offer me a position, probably as a sous chief or assistant FSD.  Which might be better than the dead end customer service gig I've been doing the last four years, because, health insurance.

Which brings me back to the title of my post: Get A Trade.  I'm not anti college or university education.  Like I mentioned earlier, "Jobs doing professional stuff aren't as easy to get as jobs doing just stuff.".  If I could offer one bit of employment advice to kids graduating high school it's, get a trade first.  Then you can stash a little cash before you go to school or work at it while you are in college.

Maybe one day in the future you will be down on your luck and you'll need something to fall back on.  Sure people look down on mechanics, machinists, linemen, roustabouts, welders etc.  You know what they do when the car breaks?  They fork over $90 or more an hour in labor charges for the guy at Midas to fix it for them.  The guy that owns the company that pumps out my septic system is a millionaire.  Not a bad ROI for the cost of a CDL and a willingness to do a job that other people look down on.

Trade first.

College second.

Use a small investment of your time and talents to pursue a larger goal. 


  1. Here in Oregon, you know how young men funded college? They sub-contracted out in construction and housepainting. Those young men made a good living and paid their bills.

    Now thanks to illegals being cheaper because some builders hire under the table to avoid all the payroll tax issues, those young men are having a real hard time paying for their higher ed.

  2. Susan1:03 PM

    I always laugh when liberals have such a snooty attitude towards blue collar jobs. But to fix it themselves? You have to be kidding. They are the first to reach for the phone.

    The blue collar trades provide a young man with a great living judging by what I have had to pay per hour in the past.

    The blue collar guys will also be in a better position to survive a serious economic collapse, as they will have something to barter with and the snoots won't.

    It is all in your perspective.

  3. I'm just going off of what I see here. Several companies are willing to pay for schooling and even a small wage for kids to get the training in some fields. If a tech program requires 18 months to get a certificate the company is willing to pay for the school, so long as you agree to work for them for a period of time after wards.

    The best deals I've seen equal $300 to $400 a week in pay while going to school, with the school paid for. The student gets to do all the hands on work on the clock for the company. Then when they get out they get the prevailing wage for the job they selected. Most of the time its around $24 to $28/hr. plus bennies.

    Say a kid thinks he wants to be a Mechanical Engineer.

    Option 1
    Spend 4 years in college, running up $12,000/ debt (low but realistic in WY) graduates on time (again not always the case) gets out of school with $48,000 with a payment of $582/mo. Then he gets lucky and gets hired by Aug at $60,000 doing peon work. He is 23 years old.

    Option 2
    Same kid same interest and goal. Starts machinist program in HS along with his other studies. Completes first 6 months of program under votech. Knows he likes it. Lands apprenticeship program, has to complete 12 months for certificate. Company pays for it all. Works 24 months at $28/hr to pay back training.

    In school received $300 week stipend @50 weeks $15,000.
    After school paid $58,240 for two years. (assumes no OT) Total debt 0. Total wages $131,480. Age 21.

    Lets assume he banked half of what he made and blew the rest on cars, beer and girls. He'd have about $52,000 in the bank.

    He still wants to go to college and be a ME. If he paid cash for his car, he can go college as a 21 year old with a new car, $50,000 in the bank and his pick of the co-eds.

    BUT and most importantly he now has lots of options. He can CLEP half a years worth of general ed course work. Then he has a big chunk of basic work out of the way with his certificate. He can probably do his ME in 3 years, maybe a little less. This assumes he didn't take some night classes while working at his job. In that case he graduates at 24. If he did night school he could graduate by 23.

    OR he may be such a great guy that the company that he was working for agrees to put him through the ME program in return for his working for them in the summer and coming back to them after he finishes school.

    In either case he will probably get picked up BEFORE graduation and have a job. He will have less or no debt on graduation. He will have a better idea of what kind of work he likes and will not get stuck in peon mode till he's 30.

    Plus he was likely pulling in $28/hr as vacation relief at his old job over the summers. 14 weeks working would gross $15,000 for the summer. Not to mention how much better his dating/social life is going to be in college.

    If that looks like a good non-traditional option, you should see what's available for longer trade programs like electricians. Imagine pocketing $80,000/yr at 20 years old to learn your job. 3 year apprenticeship 4 years work commitment with a guaranteed $125k min for those 4 years. If a guy mooched off mom and dad while in school he'd pull down over $600,000 while living rent free by the time he was 25. Then the question becomes go to college or retire a millionaire at 40.

  4. black4:48 PM

    Exactly what my wife and I have been talking about. Exactly.

    I love to cook too. Not enough money or time to do it cuz I'm working through the repercussions of Option 1 above...

    Hope things turn out well for you, Res!

  5. Res Ipsa5:29 PM

    Hope things turn out well for you, Res!

    Thank you. I would go back into one of these programs if I met the age requirement, under 23 years old. When I was working for PSN I offered to spend a year in Afghanistan if they would let me in the program. No dice. Instead they paid me well and were a good employer.

  6. Res Ipsa6:37 PM

    A quick update, I just got off the phone with the guy who offered me the job. They can't pay enough to make it worth while but I can use it to make some extra cash if I want.

    Not life changing but a few extra bucks now and again isn't a bad thing.

  7. I've been thinking of switching to construction with a friend, but can't guarantee to make as much money or have the stability as I have now. I have enough on my plate without looking for more.

    Decreasing expenses and paying off debt is where we're at now.

    While still trying to live life and allow the kids to be involved in what they want.

    Besides, homeschooling can be expensive. Some curriculums are prohibitively expensive.

  8. Besides, homeschooling can be expensive.

    I hear ya. We pick and choose and I suspect that we are spending more than we need to, too.

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