I lease a barn and acreage a few miles outside of town where i keep six horses.  I hire high school and college kids to do all the dirty and heavy work that i can't or don't want to do.  Since the mid 90's i have had absolute hell (with two notable exceptions) finding kids who would, show up or even call if they couldn't get there, do more than the absolute minimum and that not well, couldn't walk from point A. to point B. without supervision or a map to get to point C or showed any interest in doing much.  I even had one who was paid in advance who decided that he didn't want to work for a couple of weeks so just gave me my money back.  I guess that was better than not giving it back but i was counting on him.  i had one who didn't show one day/no call and left me a note the next day that she was doing something with a friend and forgot to come to work.  Two days in a row she didn't show up/no call then left me a note that her i phone had been stolen so she lost all her contacts would i please text her my phone number.  She had worked for me for almost a year and i'm in the phone book and my home number ends in four zeros. (maybe it was the trauma of losing the phone.)


A week ago i hired a new kid.  Varsity football, student council, FFA. wants to go the Airforce Academy.  When i spoke with him i was concerned about all the activities plus school.  He assured me no problem he would get it done the only problem would be Friday nights when he had a game during football season but his brother would cover for him on Friday night and he would work Saturday to be sure everything was done.  Amazing, let's see what happens.


This little job means letting six horses out of their stalls every morning before school.  Bad weather means feeding them and watering them in the barn before school.  Coming back after school to clean stalls, clean out the wash rack, keep the tool room and saddle house organized and tack oiled, haul off the trash, feed the dogs and cats, bring the horses in feed and water them, be alert for anything wrong with the animals that requires calling me.  Plus keeping the arena and barn alley raked. 7 days a week

And it pays a whopping 300.00 a month plus a tank of gas.  The upside is i pay in advance, they don't keep hours, school is a priority, they get paid even if they are out of town on school trips  or hit the high spots six week test week and i do it myself while they are at the Houston Livestock show for a week showing a pig or a goat.  Yes friends, kids in Texas raise pigs and goats and steers then show and sell them to earn money for college or a car.

So my new kid shows up on his first day.  I give him a quick walk through and a list and i am out of there.  I come back late evening to ride and work with my horses.  Not only does everything look better than it has in 10 years there is a note on the dry board in the barn that says, "Ms. McCartt, thank you for the opportunity to work for you." If there is anything else i can do call me or leave a note.".  And this is only the beginning  by Wednesday it looked like a show barn.  Hmmm maybe i have found the one kid in the world whose daddy taught him how to work.  I called him and said, " Ian, would you like to gather up four or five of your friends and move some hay tomorrow ."  "Yes ma'am, i will have them there by 1:00 and we will get it done."

I met four boys at a storage barn holding 300 bales of hay that weigh about 65 to 70 lbs each and the temps are hitting 100.

These kids are 14, 15, 16 years old.  Moving hay from the storage barn and stacking it in stalls in the big barn will convnce any kid that they must have a college education or know a trade other than hay moving in the heat.  When i came back at 4:00 they were going strong.  I handed each of them a 50 dollar bill and said , "dont kill yourselves it is murderous hot, do the rest tomorrow."  What came next gives me hope for the future, an insight into the upside of a recession, if there is one and a clear vision that we have a generation of kids coming up who didn't get a trophy for showing up.


When i handed each of them what i thought was too little for the hard, hot and dirty work they were doing each one of them said, "Thank you so much for the Opportunity to work for you.".  They didn't say it once, they said it over and over.   All of them. That was followed by , "We are going to be here for a while, we are not going to leave it half done."  Holy God,  thinking i was hallucinating, i jumped in the car, ran back to town, cashed a check and was back at 7:00 with lots more 50 dollar bills.  300 bales of hay had been moved on top of all the barn work done.  4 young men were smiling like Chessie cats when i passed out the greenbacks and thanked them for more than a good days work for a good days pay.

And they said it again, "THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK".  One explained that he had been calling everybody he could think of just to do something, anything for the summer and after school.  Another said he had worked for his uncle, but business was slow so his uncle had to keep his full time employees busy so his job had ended.

Does this sound familiar?  It did to me.  But ,what was different, very different from what i hear most days from the young stars that have come of school in the past 8 to 10 years as well as a lot of Gen x.  They were grateful for an opportunity to work, they weren't whining about no jobs or being laid off or talking about how cool they were.  They didn't quit when they could have and finish the next day.  They didn't know there was another round of 50 dollar bills on the way, they were glad to get the first round.


What happened as a result of what i saw yesterday.  I hired the younger brother of my first new hire on a perm part time.  The older brother offered to split his money with the younger one so i didn't have to pay both.  No way kids, there is plenty to do out here, both of you are on the payroll.  As for the other two.  We will be building a new fence starting next week, all the saddles need cleaning and oiling.  After that i will figure out what else needs to be done.  And that my friends is how jobs are created.  By a generation or a sample of , I hope, a generation who just want an opportunity to work.

It's been a long time since i heard "Thank you for the opportunity".  It's been a long time since i have seen young kids work like these boys did, with pride in how it was done, pride that they got it done and hoping for another opportunity.


So watch out Millenials, while you are worrying about your "personal brand" and fussing about it if you have to work overtime and your company doesn't give you lunch and facebook at work.  I think i have just seen a generation coming out of this recession who already know what it feels like not to be able to find a job or get laid off.  They are looking for an opportunity to work.  And you know what? Not one of them asked me what it paid before they jumped at the chance.


And maybe just maybe this experience blows a hole in that mantra that illegals are doing jobs that Americans won't do.

I think it may be time to shut those borders down and give our kids "AN OPPORTUNITY TO WORK"

Views: 1020

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on July 27, 2012 at 8:57am
I love this story!!!! I don't know what the newest generation is going to be called but your right- millenials better watch their asses. There's always someone younger, smarter, and hungrier than you ready to snatch the opportunity that you're too "good" to take advantage of. Well said Ms Sandra! :)
Comment by Amber on July 27, 2012 at 11:33am

@Sandra - thanks for giving me a bright spot to look for! We are currently in the midst of a "child" recently moving back in with us, and it is a daily challenge. And I know it partly must lie with me as a parent, but I cannot for the life of me figure out where the attitude of entitlement and lack of drive comes from. It is slowly disappearing but not fast enough! There is a prevalence of the type of poor work ethic that you talk about at the beginning of this article, and you are wonderful to keep trying to reach for the ones who can and WILL do it. You must have an abundance of patience, I hope this group of young people have lots of other like-minded friends to keep you well staffed for years to come. And thank you for showing them that the rewards (Pay, appreciation, etc.) are there when deserved.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 28, 2012 at 12:17am

Thanks ladies.  I have decided that in the spare time i now have and a new found ability to walk upright without pain with no 50 pound sacks of feed to haul around, i am going to be on this phone calling everybody i know, have ever done business with and some that just need a wake up call.  If there are kids who want to work, there has to be enough stuff to be done that i can get my business associates up off their hauches to cough up some part time work.  It may be a refreshing change for them to see some young men who are eager, smiling and looking for an opportunity to do what needs to be done.

Maybe this will be the "recovery" generation.  Their attitude certainly fired me up to get after it on several fronts.  I didn't realize myself how much i had been affected by the entitled attitude i have seen for the past 10 years.


@Amber, i think we did have some affect on our kids that created some of that albeit we thought we were opening doors for them or providing opportunities that we didn't have.  Gen X and some of the millenials never learned to fail and get up and get after it because we didn't want them to fail.  That being said, i think unfortunately for them the whole country got swept up with political correctness ,not enough accountability and just damn well forgot that old addage that if you want to eat you need to work.  We may have helped create these little entitled monsters with an attention span akin to a monkey.  So all we can do now is retrain the monkeys and hopefully look forward to their younger peers starting to bite them in the tail to move them forward at the same time.


I spent the afternoon stocking the fridge at the barn with lemonade, gatorade, fruit, cookies and everything else i could find.  When i got back out this evening i had a note.  "Wow, thanks , we left two dollars to help restock for the gatorade."  There are no words...they stopped my entitlement program real fast.


Comment by Casey Kuperus on July 30, 2012 at 7:52am

This is an awesome story Sandra! Growing up on a dairy farm myself, I've always felt that every teenager should be forced to spend a summer on a farm to learn how to work. 4:00 AM milkings and all day in the fields with dinner coming around 9:00 at night will teach you a few things!

Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 30, 2012 at 2:35pm

LOL, yeppers Casey.  It was not a dairy farm but my grandparents had milk cows, churned their own butter and kept the cream.  Milk went to the pigs.  What all that convinced me of was that whatever i did to earn a living was going to be inside where i could sit down and to this day i hate milk.  But the rural work ethic is a whole different animal.

Comment by Caitlin Carruthers on July 30, 2012 at 7:33pm

Thanks for sharing this story Sandra. You've given me hope that I won't be stuck with the "I want the world, and I want it NOW!" generation for the rest of my life!

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on July 30, 2012 at 8:55pm

After reading the first part of this I was expecting to see more of the same flaky, lazy theme repeating itself. So glad, your new hires are working out so well. What a nice example and reminder that not everyone lives up to the generation stereotypes. 

I've never worked on farm or in a barn, but had to learn from an early age how to work hard and appreciate the learning that comes from doing dirty, physical and unpleasant work to earn a meager living. I'm quite a character thanks to all the "character-building" work experiences I've had :) 

Thanks for sharing the story and I hope the "happy" outcome continues for the long term with this new batch of workers you have there. 

On a side note, my aunt (post retirement age) volunteered at an equestrian center to do some of the stable work that you described just for the privilege of being around horses and getting to ride once and while after the care-taking part was complete. She got so much satisfaction out of it - dirt and all! 

Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 30, 2012 at 11:55pm

@Caitlin  It was truly a pleasure to share this story.  I don't think this is a one off situation, as the word has spread that i am trying to find work for kids who want to work i am getting calls from more each day.  A lot of these kids are "city" kids so i can't put it all in the hat of rural work ethic.  I have seen over the decades that i have been in the work force, the pendulum swing from "Just give me a chance" to "What are you going to do for me now" a couple of times so perhaps it is starting to swing back away from the trend of narcissistic instant gratification we have seen in the past ten years.


@Kelly i can relate to all that "character building" myself  you made me laugh.  Good for your aunt.  Anybody who loves equines is A-ok in my book..dirt and all.  We may smell a little funny at times but to us it smells like fun.  :)

I walked into the grocery one night on my way home from the barn.  Checker kept looking at me funny and finally asked if i had been in a car wreck.  Nooo...why?  She pointed to a mirror behind me, i looked and there was a big green smear on my cheek where one of my horses had given me a big wet one on the cheek with his alfalfa covered nose.  I said, "Oh no that is from a horse".  She looked horrified and said, "my god i bet that hurt".

All i could think of to say was, "No , not really, horse people are tough."  You just can't explain horse kisses.

Comment by Peter Ceccarelli on July 31, 2012 at 12:41pm

Simply great!


Comment by StaffingStarr on July 31, 2012 at 6:17pm

First of all, Sandra, you're an AMAZING storyteller!  Thank you for sharing this experience because we don't hear enough stories about hard workers with that "roll-up-your-sleeves" type of work ethic... Nowadays, it's make a sex-tape, a viral video, go on a reality TV show and countless other shortcuts to gain fame & fortune...


I'm curious, have you met the boys' parents?  I believe well-mannered and disciplined kids are a reflection of their upbringing... I could be wrong, but I was just curious... Thanks again for great story and life lesson... I plan on sharing it with my 15-year old...


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