A Twenty Dollar Bill

I looked at a twenty-dollar bill on my desk yesterday and remembered when I had to work twenty hours just to make that much. There are still many of us around who remember working for a dollar an hour.

Everything cost more these days. I understand the economics of time, inflation and progress, and the fact that the value of personal services are not the same as it was when I was making a dollar an hour. But still I wonder if the working young today can understand the phenomenal difference in the work value perspective?

Probably not! I did not when my Dad was making thirty-cents an hour as a line worker at General Electric in the 1940’s. I remember him saying that his union went on strike for a two-cent an hour increase and when they returned to work the members were jubilant.

My Dad was angry. He figured out it would take years of working before the two cents would make up for his lost wages. It didn’t make sense to him.

My Dad had three ethics. Be honest. Be strong, be honorable. He was a Canadian by birth. He grew up in a small border town where he had limited career choices. He could become a border guard, a semi-professional hockey player of which he was very good or he could immigrate to the United States and find another career path. He did the latter.

He was an auto mechanic, a gandy dancer, a sign painter and eventually a general foreman for GE.

On his own time he was a commercial artist, an inventor and a laconic wit of wise sayings.

It is amazing what a twenty dollar bill will make you think of sitting on a desk.

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