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Value in work

OPINION by Harry Porter | November 21, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

When did work become a four-letter word?

It seems that any time the subject of work is brought up to a certain segment of the population they react as if you are casting aspersions on their mother. They treat the subject of labor as if it is something beneath them. They hold the very idea of effective exertion as a pox that should be avoided at all cost unless it is something they deem worthy of their perceived station in life.

Let's take this past week as an example. The Sentinel-Record is attempting to hire an audio/video production assistant. This person shoots videos, edits videos and does some organizational things within our newsroom. We had a younger gentleman apply. He did not have a degree; he had very limited experience and lived in Little Rock. Still, we reached out to him in an attempt to schedule an interview with him. He responded that since he lived in Little Rock and would have to commute to Hot Springs he wanted to make sure the job paid what he felt he was worth. Let us just say the amount he was asking for was nearly what I make as general manager with 30 years' experience in the newspaper industry.

Bear in mind this was a 20-something-year-old who had been shooting videos for less than a year for a small company in Little Rock. For him to expect to be paid the amount he was asking for demonstrated a severe lack of foundation in the real world. Ludacris would be a kind way to describe his way of thinking.

When I asked him if he was making close to that amount at his current job he said he was not. I asked if he was making half that amount at his current job, he said he was not. I then asked why he felt his requested salary was appropriate for this job. He said that he understood his worth and would not accept anything less than his worth.

I saw this conversation was not going to produce anything close to a logical conclusion. I thanked the young man for his time and wished him well in his job search. He then informed me that The Sentinel-Record was missing out and I should strongly reconsider employing him. He stated that he was dynamic and a visionary and would someday win the Academy Award.

I told him that was great and when he did win the Oscar please reach back out to me. Maybe at that time, I could afford to pay him the salary he requested. We both had a chuckle and parted on good terms.

My first year in the newspaper business I made a total of $8,512. Granted, that was 1991, but I had a wife and young child to support. It was not easy. Times were tough and there were many days when I wondered how I was going to make ends meet. However, I also understood that I had a future in the industry and if I applied myself and worked very hard, I would not make $8,512 for the rest of my life. I knew it was my responsibility to prove myself to my employer.

Starting at the bottom and working your way up has become something that some people seem to struggle to understand. Proving yourself is foreign to the folks who "know their worth." I hope that as we emerge from the pandemic people begin to see the value in a good day's work, both monetarily and emotionally.

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