SOME say starting out in the 70s was tough. It probably was, particularly if we’re do draw comparisons with the way things are done now.

It was simple. You got up in the morning. You went out and did a good, honest, hard day of work, and you came home.

Some people worked Saturday, but most spent weekends with their families.

“You can stay in bed when you’re dead,” my father used to say if I felt like skipping school, or if I felt like missing a shift of work as a teenager.

“Or what?” I once mustered the courage to ask. An innocent question which you’d think could be supported by some type of logical explanation.

“Or else,” he say.

“Do your homework. Or else. Get ready for dinner. Or else.”

To be fair, he didn’t say it that often. He was a nice man and rarely saw the need to express any semblance of anger.

But being the oddball kid I was, I’d wonder what “else” actually was. I didn’t want to test it. Not for my own wellbeing, or that of my father.

He’d probably have blown a vein in that long neck of his, not because he was angry, just because finding an answer would become all too hard. To talk things through wasn’t a 70s strong point.

You see, “else” had no meaning. It was a humble man’s way of expressing values. His way of saying: “Just do the right thing.”

Like most men of that era, he was no Winston Churchill. Short. Blunt. And to the point. That’s how he played it, and nobody questioned it.

Nobody bothered ask if he was okay. Nobody except our mother, that is. She’d pat him on the back and tell him his children’s deficiencies weren’t his fault.

She’d let him know that I, his black sheep, would be alright. Like a dancer or an artist, my writing and English skills would lead me to – well, perhaps not to prosperity, but to an honest living. Which it eventually did.

That’s how things were. You went to work. You did what you were asked. And you often went the extra mile to get things done. You got paid and everyone was happy.

Sure, everyone had hopes and dreams. That’s what the dinner table was for. I call it old-time Facebook.

Rightly or wrongly, not a lot changed. Everything was just like an old black and white movie, with Rock Hudson pecking Doris Day on the cheek as he did up his tie and picked up his briefcase.

I do look back however, at the way economies worked, and how governments ensured people were able to meet the costs of inflation by giving them a pay rise.

It’s something that came. Not something we necessarily asked for, although union leaders would argue the point.

Now, school leavers and graduates leave school. They work until they’re bored, or feel they’re not being looked after, or sick, or want to move, or have found somewhere they can do less work for the same amount of money.

He, she, they, them skip jobs. They try new things. They look for their calling. Some find it, some don’t. It doesn’t really matter any more because whatever help they need, they’ll get.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing that young people are no longer isolated. And Albo’s come good with a pay rise. That too, is a good thing for those who earn it.

But surely there’s a line.

Allow me to throw in a little perspective. If I woke up feeling stressed, I’d go to work and find someone worse off than me.

I’d talk to them, hear out their problems, go to the pub with them at lunch time for moral support and quite often a pie.

We’d go back to work, both feeling better. And we’d knuckle down, get done whatever needed to be done, put a call in to home – wherever that might have been at the time – and ensure we stopped on the way for bread and milk, if that was required.

The point is, we worked in an economy where we showed up. Our employers paid up. There was trust. And there was always fellowship.

I hear too often that in the modern economy, there’s not enough people showing up. Employers are finding reasons not o pay up. As a consequence people are giving up.

Hey Wanda, we must have some old black and white movies somewhere?

 

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