Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Change in America's Work Ethic

We have become such a lazy society. I'm including myself here. I don't like what we've become as a nation, but I don't really want to change myself either.

I had a bunch of things to donate to Salvation Army today. They took one thing out of about six items. Their reason... they only sell things as is, and the things I had wouldn't sell. 50 years ago, these things would have been taken gladly. Some guy would have set up shop in his garage and turned these items into workable usable things.

Take my refrigerator, for instance. It works. It's an older model... maybe 10 years old tops. The only thing wrong with it is the coating of mold. This is what happens when it's left sitting in my garage unplugged for a year. That's how long I've been trying to find a home for it. No one wants it, so it's going to the dump. I'm sure there are families out there that could use a nice refrigerator, but no one has claimed it.

Next item... My buffet and hutch. Solid wood, no particle board, dovetailed drawers. Beautiful piece of furniture. I'm not a carpenter and it would take a lot of elbow grease to make it look beautiful again. The top part is primed, and ready to be painted. The bottom part is a bit more difficult. It needs to be sanded down to remove the wax and paint that were layered on it. I don't have the skills to do the job but it would cost more than the piece is worth to have a professional finish it for me. Some father and son team could easily use this as a shop project. Years ago, this is what it's fate would have been, but instead it's going into a landfill. It makes me sad, but I've run out of options.

I also have a queen size mattress. It has served a long life at my house. I've had it for almost 15 years. It's still comfy, a testament to investing in quality. It has some staining and all it needs is a good cleaning. Someone somewhere could have a nice soft bed to sleep on if they would only come get it. Alas it's fate is the same as the other items... off to the landfill.

Then there's this old fireplace. It's actually a space heater that is mounted on a wall. I got it when an older friend of mine passed away. I went through the trouble of bringing it home only to realize that one of the prongs on the power cord is missing. It must have broken off during the move. I don't know enough about electrical wiring to replace the cord. It would probably take an electrician about 5 minutes and $5 to fix it, but this little piece of history is headed to the dump.

There are other things too. A filing cabinet who's only flaw is that it was covered in contact paper long ago. I would continue to use it, but I ran out of room. It was replaced by a five drawer, industrial size lateral file. There's also some plastic shelf units that would help organize someone's garage. These are now on their way to who knows where.

I guess the thing that bothers me is that both the places I called to donate these items, are supposed to be helping people find jobs. One of them is a drug and alcohol addiction recovery program. They specialize in helping people learn how to function in society. They could easily use these items to help some guy learn to become a furniture restoration specialist, or as an electrician project, or upholstery cleaner.

We hear on the news all the time about people out of work and losing their homes, and learning to live with less income. We are told over and over again to recycle, reuse, renew. However, when someone really wants to help out or do their part, there isn't an infrastructure to make this possible.

Oh well... at least I tried. Time to move on.

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