In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
No Work, No Pay
In February 1980 I lost my job. I had been married for just under a year, and my wife was pregnant with our first child. Although my wife was still working, she had part-time work only, and we could not survive without my income. My first visit to the unemployment benefit office was educational, and I was surprised at the number of people claiming benefits who appeared to have no desire to find employment. Being unemployed was not an option for me, but it took seven weeks of filling out forms and knocking on doors before I managed to find a job as the UK was in recession at this time. Sitting down and talking about finding employment would not have worked. I needed to take action if we were to be able to pay our bills. I needed work.
My new job paid less than half of what I had been earning a few months earlier when I was still serving at sea. I came ashore six months after our wedding because I did not want to be separated from my wife for two-thirds of the year. My new job was somewhat different. I exchanged my navigating officer’s uniform for overalls, and my ship for a van. My days were spent driving around the county delivering motor parts to garages. Despite the low pay I enjoyed my new job. Instead of the freedom of the high seas, I had the freedom of the countryside. Instead of having a salary transferred directly into my bank account at the end of each month, I received my wages in cash at the end of each week.
The fact that work is about more than wages is most evident in the face of one of the assistants at our local supermarket. He regularly mans the self-service tills. Customers use the self-service tills because they are supposed to be quicker. Inevitably they are not and there are often problems. When problems occur the assistant manning the tills is frequently on the receiving end of significant abuse. This particular assistant smiles his way through the day, despite the abuse. He told me he enjoys his work. It is a joy to watch him in action. A man who is satisfied with his job, because in all labor there is profit, and profit is more than hard cash.