We have all heard that old saying “Good help is hard to find.” but I have never really understood why people say this.
When I lived in the bigger cities, I was always able to find a reputable contractor or laborer, but out here in the country… it’s a whole different ball game. I understand now why people say “Good help is hard to find” so much.
We live virtually in the middle of nowhere. We are 80+ miles each way to the nearest Walmart or suitable grocery store of any size.
We live so remote, that DSL or Fiber isn’t available here and don’t even think of cable television. We had to rent tower space in the nearest little town and construct a 60′ tower there and a 130′ tower on our property just to create a microwave radio link between the two towers to get internet.
We currently live in a 12×32 cabin that my son and I built a little over two years ago. I built this cabin with the hopes of starting to build our main house earlier this year (2015). But due, mostly, to not being able to find good workers to work alongside me, we have been delayed.
We have had every type of worker out here. Let me tell you just a few of the stories of our experiences out here…
The Convict: This man was recommended to us by our church secretary. Turns out, he was a two time felon. He stole from us. We weren’t able to prove it was him, even though we had video of the theft and I could read his bull-hockey excuse like a book. FIRED and we had to have the local sheriff’s office escort him off our property. He will never be back!
The Holy Roller: This guy saw that Ranae and I were former missionaries and thought he would put on a good act trying to pretend to be a “Christian”. We hired him. He didn’t like working outdoors and quit us right in the middle of a project. He will never be back!
The No-Show: I had rented a piece of equipment at the cost of $285 per day. I told the man we were going to dig some trenches and fence posts. He decided that was just too much for $12 per hour and decided to just simply not show up. This ass-clown didn’t even have the decency to call me so I wouldn’t waste a 160 mile round trip to rent a piece of equipment that I couldn’t use alone. Needed to say… FIRED THAT DAY! He will never be back!
The Hot Head: This guy is a neighbor I felt bad for, time and time again. I knew his finances were tight and I truly wanted to help this guy. He routinely wanted paid for everything though. There never was any neighborly anything to this guy. My wife routinely gave him full sacks of groceries such as canned goods, pastas, vegetables, eggs, and much much more. Hundreds of dollars of food in just the two years we have lived here. We asked him to feed and water the chickens one weekend while we were out of town. This little task takes about five minutes. In exchange he could keep all the eggs for the days we were gone and he had our permission to raid the huge vegetable garden for anything he might want. He wanted $10 per day in addition. On the job, he and I have tangled up more times than I can count. He routinely left my tools out in the weather or worse, he took them home with him at night. I always got them back, but that’s only because I tracked everything like a hawk. I love his favorite excuse, “For $15 per hour, you don’t deserve perfect” or his other expression “For $15 dollar slave wages, you hire me from the neck down only!” What an ass! The last time (there have been multiple times) he walked off the job because he was unable to understand what I was telling A DIFFERENT worker to do. My favorite part about this ass-clown was his constantly wanting a payday advance. I routinely pay on the 5th and 20th of the month. But this past March I was out of town to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday, he wanted paid early. He called and called like a petulant little child. I had enough of this guy and his poor life choices. FIRED! He will never be back!
The Fixed Bidder: I hired a guy to do some dry wall, taping and floating. He said he normally got $160 per day and he expected the project to be three days. I asked, “I need a fixed bid, so we are agreeing on 3 days at $160 per day, correct?” His reply “Oh yes, sir! 3 days. Shouldn’t take any more than that at all.” Ten minutes into the project he comes to me with how the bid was going to be more because he found something that was incorrect in the way the wall was built. I loved his routine, “I can’t do shotty work for you Boss, but this is gonna be extra.” I agreed to letting the bid slip and added one extra day to the total price. He tried that routine every day for the next seven days! When he was two hours from completing the job, he said I owed him for 7 days wages. Not a chance. He spent more than half his time, LITERALLY!, on the cell phone. He walked off with about five days pay and didn’t finish the job! He will never be back!
The Painter: I hired this person to do some painting in a small 12×16 bedroom I had added onto the cabin. Yesterday was supposed to be the first day. No show and no call until hours after the agreed upon time. We rescheduled for 8am today. It’s now 10:30am as I write this blog. Still no show. This messed up my meeting schedule two days in a row!
Countless others: There are too many to others to mention, but suffice it to say, the ones listed above barely scratch the surface.
I really don’t understand the mindset of people like these types of workers. I pay an honest wage. I’ve never not paid anyone. I’m one of the easiest guys in the world to work for, although I will admit it drives mental midgets nuts when I am able to catch so much detail with a simple glance at something. I feel like “Mike” from the television show “Suits” sometimes… nothing gets past me. I remember things like an elephant and I use computer software to track everything else. Let’s just say.. I’m efficient as hell and it annoys those who lack in this department.
But if someone needs time off or shorter work days or whatever, I am the easiest guy in the world. Just don’t try to bullshit me and show me some respect and we will get along marvelously!! I prefer they keep their drama as far away from me as possible though.
We picked this location out here in the sticks because of the political views of most of the people here. Or at least most of the people I would socialize with anyway. These people are good; honorable; hard working Christian folks. But they all say the exact same thing “Good help is hard to find out here” I never knew how true that statement was until these past two years.
My son Marc, had precisely zero experience swinging a hammer or doing plumbing or anything of the sort, but he has at least two things these ass-clowns above don’t have. He has a heart for learning and he respected me enough to communicate problems without walking off a job… that and he makes good life choices and creates a drama free zone around himself. To this date, he has been the best, hardest working employee we have ever had out here.
I am proud of my son. I didn’t really raise him since his mother and I divorced in 1989. I think she and her new husband did a great job! Marc is a fine young man and I am more proud of him than even he may realize.
I was raised by my step-father also. Ron has to be one of the hardest working men I have ever met. He and I can tangle up like nobody’s business because of his political slant to the left, but if we don’t talk politics, a better role model would be hard to find. I don’t recall him ever calling in sick to work and certainly never for having been too drunk to show up!
My mom calls me a workaholic. I guess I probably am. But it’s the way I learned… from Ron mostly. I don’t mind working. It’s honest and it’s rewarding. It’s all about honor in my mind. Do what I say I will and for the price I agreed to.
I don’t like debt though. Which is why Ranae and I live like we do. I drive a 2004 F250 with 400,000 miles on it. She drives a 2005 Ford Ranger. We live in a modest little cabin and we don’t owe anything other than on the land. Not many people would live this way and many call us weird, but that’s okay with us.
Despite all the piss-poor workers available out in the sticks, we love it here. Well.. if it weren’t for the scorpions, we would love it more. 😉
The point to this article was really to warn folks thinking about moving to the middle of nowhere. Unless you have enough money to take time off from work to do the projects yourself, you are likely in for a big surprise moving to the country. Good help… isn’t just hard to find out here… it’s next to impossible to find out here!