Earning Your Way

John Latta
Executive Editor
[email protected]

Do you ever wonder how many people actually earn what they get paid? How many people are out there making millions for doing something not worth much at all?

There was a time when America valued a hard-working man more than just about anyone else. Now it seems we just say we do in television advertisements. The gap between what we say we believe in and what we actually do hold valuable is getting wider in a lot of places. The value of an honest day’s work is one of the very best examples.

A trucker has no choice but to work long, hard hours. There are no short cuts. There isn’t a way to quintuple your income while doing less work. You have to climb into your tractor and drive. You can’t choose just to do the easy work. When it snows, you keep driving. When it’s 110 in the shade, you have to load. When four-wheelers play crazy chase in and out of the cones at construction sites, you have to be responsible for their safety as well as yours.

Does anyone pay you more than you’re worth?

This is America, where everyone can dream about making it big and have a chance for that dream to come true. But it used to be you worked your way to the top. I don’t begrudge people their millions. But I want a level playing field. I want them to do what you and I have to do. They have to earn it.

How do you earn your way?

You do your work yourself; you don’t ask or expect someone else to do your job for you.

You make your money from your work; you don’t take money out of someone else’s pocket.

You sweat. Sometimes the going will get tough, and you will have no choice but to hunker down and do it. You don’t quit or find an excuse.

You stop to help someone in need, even if it costs you something.

You get dirty. Sometimes it’s used oil or mud on your jeans, sometimes it’s coffee and ketchup stains on your business shirt after an all-nighter, but if you are earning your money there’ll be times you look and maybe even smell bad.

You give credit where it’s due. You don’t stay silent if the boss confuses the good work of someone else with yours.

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If something needs doing right now, you do it. Even if it isn’t, strictly speaking, “your job.”

You volunteer for work sometimes, even when you don’t have to, and maybe there’s nothing in it for you.

You do work no one knows you did. Then you don’t tell anyone or expect praise or a reward for it.

Your work provides something of value to a lot of other people, a fair value they can pay for and get their money’s worth.

You let other people pass. As a trucker lets someone overtake him because he or she needs to get somewhere faster than you do; an executive lets someone lower on the corporate ladder take their shot at climbing.

If you screw up, you stand up and take responsibility for it.
You pay your fair share of taxes.

You are ready to stand up before your fellow Americans and say, “This is what I do for a living, and I’m proud of it.”

You’re honest about your work. If you call and tell me you have oil pressure problems, I know you have oil pressure problems and not a hangover.

Animals like you. Just kidding, but I’d like to think they have some sense that can pick a phony a mile away.

I can trust you.

If we continue to use the American working man and woman as a kind of icon for all that’s good in America, as an image of who builds this country, we ought to believe it. Because it’s true. But “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay” sounds too much like a jingle or a slogan today – like something old-fashioned. But it shouldn’t be. Even if the pay is 50 or 100, 200 times more than it was when working people were building this country in our formative years, if you put money in your pocket, you should have earned it by honestly providing something of worth to your fellow citizens. Just like truckers do.

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