I think it's a sad reflection on the dissolving American middle class when jobs that were once held by children are now done by adults. When I was a kid I had a job as a paper boy and later in my teens I worked at a fast food place and was a stock/bag boy in a supermarket. All those jobs are now filled mostly with adults. Two things, first it is not good when you see people taking any job they can even though it pays crap. Secondly, the fact that kids don't know about working for a living until they reach their twenties can't be good. I learned early on how to steal from an employer and how to make it look like I am working my ass off when really I'm taking it easy. Mark and I had lunch at a new pizza place here in town yesterday, and the poor girl waiting on us seemed perplexed every time I asked her for something. Now if she had worked in her teens at say, a McDonald's, she would have known how to smile and say "Sure, I can do that" while screwing up our order.
While walking the dogs last night I noticed another trade that used to be done by children now being done by adults. Well, not all children, but the children in my family did it. Garbage picking. My brothers, sisters, and I were excellent garbage pickers. On the evening before garbage pickup we would fan out through the neighborhood, making sure to check the more expensive streets, and return home with rusty, dirty booty. We'd find old bicycles, beat up pedal cars, we even found a two foot high mechanical Santa Claus once. We plugged that thing in and with a loud whirring sound Santa stood up straight, gave a little wave, and then turned his head a bit. We set him up every Christmas in our living room, the hell with what was crawling in his beard or that we never rewired him. We just plugged him in and hoped the frayed wire held out. Anyway, kids don't garbage pick anymore as far as I can tell. Instead a fleet of rusty and beat up old trucks make their way up and down our streets the day before trash pickup. If I'm out there when they stop to sort through my pile of trash, I like to point out the juicy bits and let them know if something is really worth taking or not. Yesterday I put out a broken fridge and before I could walk back in the front gate a man was loading it on his old pickup truck. "It doesn't work, probably the compressor is bad." I shouted out to him. He just smiled as he tossed it onto the pile already in his truck. I have just one question about the old black guys who drive through the neighborhood and pick through our garbage. Is it racist that the minute I see them I start singing the Sanford and Son theme song? Doo, doo, doo, do. Doo, daa, doo, daa, do da doo!