May 6, 2020

A friend, who I had not heard from for over 34 years, called me last week.  He said he had accidentally run across my blog post, read it and subscribed to it.  When he read it, he responded to me through my email posted toward the bottom of each blog.  He asked me to give him my phone number so he could call me.  I gave him my phone number via my email and told him to call me anytime, day or night.

Early the next morning he did call me.  He said he was calling me on his way to work.  I said to him, “You’re not retired yet?”  I thought he should be retired as he was two or three years older than me.  He said, “No, I still have to work.  I never worked on a job that paid into a pension and all I’ve got coming in is a small social security check and that’s just not enough to live on.”

I asked him where he was working now?  He told me, but said he was getting ready to look for another job as he didn’t like the present job. He went on to tell me that the longest he ever worked at one job was two years, and most jobs less that one year.  He said he had read several of my blog posts in my archive and looked like I had retired from pastoring and just doing a blog post twice a week and had read that I was getting ready to start a once weekly podcast. 

I said,” That’s right, but I am not making a penny on the blog or the podcast, that they were both a labor of love and that I considered them my ministry now.”

He told me then that he sure wished he had ever had a job that he liked so much that he would be willing to do it for free. Then he asked me, “How many jobs have you ever had?”

I told him not very many.  Then he asked me, “Which one was your favorite?”  We talked about that for awhile, then I asked him, “What was your favorite job?”  He laughed and said, “None of them.  Hated every one.  I guess that’s why I change jobs so often.  You probably heard the old saying – A rolling stone gathers no moss.”  He had to get off the phone then because he had gotten to his job.

The next few days I kept thinking about our conversation.  Particularly his question, “What was my favorite job?”

So today I decided to post on that question.  I did call my friend yesterday and told him I was going to write on that question today and asked him if he cared that I shared with my readers the conversation we had had.  I told him I would not use his name or share anything that might identify who he was.

He was always very plain-spoken and replied to me, “Hell no, I don’t care if you do use my name.  Maybe I could get a little credit for helping someone not to squander a lifetime on bad jobs that they don’t like.”  I thanked him, and he said he would be sure to read my blog post Wednesday.

Well, what was my favorite job?  I’ve had several I liked very well, but I want to focus on my first public job.  When I told my Daddy about the job and how much I would be making, he told me for the first time, and many times later, that whatever you agree to work for, give a man an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Always remember that you agreed to that price before you started the job. That was great advice and I’ve held that philosophy all my life.

So the job:  It wasn’t me only, but my younger brother, David, who asked for this job and started at the same time.  I was about 13 years and 7 months old; David was 12 years and 4 months old. This was just a summertime job for us.

What brought on this job was David and I asking our Granddaddy Jay Sinclair if he had any work we could do to earn a little extra spending money?  He said he didn’t have any work right now, but told us to go see Bob Garrett, who owned a farm, and we knew the location.

David and I went to see Mr. Garrett and asked for a job.  I didn’t know this for many years later after Mr. Garrett had sold his farm, that he had become a County Judge in Hempstead County, Arkansas, and also owned his own house building company.  I had become a plumbing contractor by then, and approached Judge Garrett about letting me bid on some of his plumbing needs.  I did all his plumbing for the next two or three years.  We bacame good friends. It was then he reminissed about that day that David and I approached him for a job.

He said, “I remember that day so well. You young boys wanting a job working in the hot sun hoeing johnson grass out of my soybeans.  I thought to myself, “There’s no way those boys can do this job.”  But I decided to hire you, just because you had the guts to ask me on your own and try a hard job that grown men sometimes get burnt out on and have to go home early.  I really thought you would chicken out of even wanting the job after I told you the hours and pay per day.  When I told you I’d pay $3.00 per day for 12 hour’s work, and you asked me when could you begin?  I said, ”Tomorrow morning be here at 6:00 A.M., and don’t be late.”  He went on to tell me he thought “Surely they won’t even show up.”

But the next morning we did show up before 6:00 a.m.  I’ve always gotten to my job earlier than the starting time ever since then. That was another valuable lesson Daddy taught us, “Never be late.”

Well, we started the job, making 25 cents per hour.  At the end of the first week, when Granddaddy asked us what were we going to do with $18.00 in cash, we told him we didn’t know.  He told us he happened to be driving by a dairy barn that morning, and he stopped in to see whether the owner had any bull calves for sale. To a dairy farm, bull calves are just a burden to have to try to get rid of.  But the owner said he had two for sale at $20.00 each.  Granddaddy told us we should buy one each, that we could let them eat grass until late into the fall and we could sell them and each make a good profit.  So, David and I each bough a bull calf.

That was one of the first things David and I learned about having a job; that you could make money and invest some of it to make a profit later on. 

Another thing we learned on that job was how to work with other people.  The other men on that hoeing crew, about eight more besides David and me, were all grown men.  They took David and me under their wings and showed us how to cope with the hot summer sun and heat.

One of the first lessons we learned was to stop bringing five-gallon water cans to work full of ice.  They told us that ice water would burn you out.  They told us that and said, “Tomorrow just bring plain water, you can go longer between drinks of water.” They said to try it just one day and if we didn’t agree, we could bring ice water from then on.

David and I talked about this on the way home and said we didn’t believe it but that we would try it for one day. We tried it, and behold – it was true! Another life-long lesson we learned from that $3.00 per day job.

There are many things I could go on and tell you about that job, but it would take too long.  But all the things I could tell you about that job is that we learned lessons far greater than the $3.00 per  day that we earned. Lessons that have lasted us for a lifetime.

I will forever have memories of that job. And Judge Garrett often talked about those days that David and I worked for him that summer.  He told me that he had learned things from us too.  Especially about giving people a chance to try to work for him.  And we laughed a lot.

When I became a minister many years later, it really occurred to me that God expected people to earn their living by the sweat of their brow and there was honor and pride to be had in every kind of work.  And I often preached that from the pulpit.

So, when I look at my favorite jobs, this $3.00 a day job is among them.  It wasn’t a big money-making job, but as I stated earlier, I learned so much from that summer’s working in the heat.

God Bless You,
Spencer Plumley

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