"Capitalist" is a funny word. It depicts pictures of two big fat
guys wearing top hats and suits, smoking cigars, and laughing all
the way to the bank.
Don’t put too much into my use of that word. I call myself a
capitalist too. I’m also a laborer, and always will be. I like
working with my hands more than I like running a business. And like
you, I did the long hard climb from the sweatshops (real ones, raided
periodically by the INS and everything!), all the way to owning my
own business. Took 30 years too.
All I mean is this; the employee brings his or her talent, skills,
training, experience, work ethic, attitude, and spends his or her
life helping the business owner make money. That’s their part of the
deal. In return, the owner provides the work space, the tools, the
jobs to do, and then shares the income of the business in the form of
wages and benefits (if he can afford them). That’s the age old
labor/capital arraignment, and it’s a good one (with a few caveats).
And I’m only interested in a jeweler who wants to constantly improve
his or her skills. I think I should look at my contribution, the work
space, the tools, even the kinds of work, in the same way. Constantly
striving for improvement, and for one reason only. More money! Well,
actually, I do put a lot of credit towards the idea of job
satisfaction, although that can be elusive. And if I’ve got skilled
people, I want their feet nailed to the floor. Even to the point of
trying to distract them from the drudgery. So I try to cover all
bases. A little raise, a better chair, satellite radio in the shop, a
workshop or a class, a bonus for the hell of it, whatever works.
But I agree with your previous post. If they want lace curtains, cat
calendars, room deodorizers, I don’t much care, but they can do that
themselves. I wouldn’t have understood your point if you hadn’t
described a very enviable shop of your own. I never had anything like
that to work in in my 30 years of working retail. Just miserable,
dark, toxic little hot boxes and broken down tools. Air conditioning?
Fuggetaboudit. I thought you meant they ought to build their own
benches, or pour the concrete floor. Don’t laugh, I’ve had bosses who
thought that way (and drove Jaguars). I’ve got some great stories.
But most of my shop decor is just sensible stuff like good lighting,
solid flooring, ventilation, space enough to stay organized and not
bump into each other, no rats or roaches, no gunfire.
Since I work at the bench too, I have to work in the same space as
my jewelers, and I got tired of all the distractions of lousy spaces
and poor equipment. The work is struggle enough. There’s plenty of
room for improvement, but it’s just so much easier to do this work in
a proper work space, with proper tools, and that means income to me.
Sounds like you are describing my life to a “T”, the phone calls, the
taxes, “oh, and can we have this job back yesterday?”, etc. Best of
luck finding a new jeweler.
David L. Huffman