OCTOBER 13, 1952
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I have a letter from a correspondent which states the opposite view of a comment I made in a recent column. In that column I mentioned a certain type of industrialist who feels it might be a good thing to have a scarcity of jobs, for then the men who did get the available jobs would do a better day's work. I felt it was unfortunate to wish for this scarcity of jobs, but I am not unmindful of the other side of the picture. My correspondent has stated it so clearly that I would rather let her put it before you.
"Prior to my marriage," she writes, "I was a stenographer about five years with a large New York City bank. My training was thorough and since it was the reverse of the present day field—fewer jobs than stenographers for them—it kept me on my toes. Work had to be done well, and I just naturally expected to work for my pay. It was no hardship and now I feel it was instead a boon.
"After my marriage and bringing up two children (one is now in the Air Corps and one at Teachers State College)—well, it was a little harder to manage on a bank clerk's pay, so I went back to work. My first job started out something like this: At 9 a.m. (or 10 or 15 minutes late) the girls came in leisurely to their desks.'late? So what—if you don't like it, I'll leave.' At 10 a.m., time out for coffee. At 12 noon, lunch. At 2 a.m., coffee and a smoke. And promptly at 5—home. Oh yes, I forgot the washing up at 4:45 a.m.
"Well, I have work to do. Being older now than most of the girls and probably a little insecure, I kept going and didn't take all the time out. But apparently I should have, since one of the girls said: 'What do you want to do—make it tough for us?'
"What I want to point out is the fact that the day's work I had done on that particular day was no harder than I had ever performed while working at the bank many years back. I was getting paid and I expected to earn that pay. But in the eyes of the younger girls, I was probably a menace to their performance. How can you instill in people the desire to really give as much as they get, maybe a little more, without antagonizing them?
"A lot of young people have grown up in an era of false prosperity. Never having had to compete for a job has dulled a certain sense of initiative and pride in work. You need that, perhaps, to make you appreciate having a job. I am not advocating unemployment as a solution. But what can be done to arouse that feeling of responsibility to a job?"
That is one trouble with human nature. Something of real value is gained, and then some people abuse it. If they abuse it too much, they lose what was gained. Finally that means the job has to be done all over again because some people did not appreciate that there has to be conscience and fairness on both sides.