Auchter's Art: What's wrong with workers? | Michigan Radio
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Auchter's Art: What's wrong with workers?

May 28, 2021

Credit John Auchter / Michigan Radio

The worst job I ever had was my first one. When I was 13 years old, my friend Joe convinced me that we should give caddying at a local country club a try.

(Joe redeemed himself a few years later when he convinced me to tryout for the school musical where I met my future wife.)

It was a hard job, to be sure. Some of the golf bags probably weighed more than I did. And the pay wasn't great — $6 for 18 holes plus a tip, which was a buck or two if the guy had a good round and was happy. But those weren't the main reasons I hated it.

The caddymaster was a condescending jerk. My friend and I didn't have any connections to the club, so we were immediately relegated to the lowest caste. Often we were among the first to arrive at dawn on Saturday and Sunday mornings where we had to wait in the basement of the old clubhouse — a series of rooms filled with broken furniture, a derelict pool table (with only some of the balls and no cues), and a TV with no cable or antenna. Most everybody else would get called up before us. Sometimes it'd be noon before we got a golfer and wouldn't get home till late afternoon. Sometimes we'd be sent home without getting on the course at all. And if you didn't caddy, you didn't get paid.

There was no bathroom in the basement, so you'd have to sneak to the caddymaster's office upstairs (nobody wanted to see a filthy caddy indoors) and ask permission. Sometimes he would say no.

I lasted about two months and then convinced my parents that I should quit. They didn't like the idea of me quitting something so relatively quickly, but they were never thrilled with having to to drive me there, so win-win.

A lesson learned: Not all jobs are worth staying with, and I was fortunate to be able to choose not to ever do that again. I could mow lawns or babysit. Or just avoid spending money altogether — I didn't need it for what a suburban boy at that age generally needed money for back then: a minibike and weed.

Another thing learned was empathy for anybody who feels stuck in a job they don't want to do.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.