The Old Town Dump and Leadership

By | March 21, 2020

[March 21, 2020]  Before there were government-mandated recycling, sanitary landfills, and rules saying what you can and cannot take to the dump, every community had its Town Dump.  As a young teenager, I worked at one to pick out valuable items to sell and reuse.

On my first day on the job, I found a non-working vacuum cleaner.  I got it operating by merely cleaning out the hose.  Now it was worth $5, and I got a dollar for my efforts.  For a 13-year-old, a dollar was like being rich.  I ran to the corner 5 & 10 Cent Store to buy candy.

Working as a kid taught me some valuable lessons.  There was no minimum wage, so my employer owed me nothing.  I made money by figuring out how to make something of value; creativity pays.  If I didn’t work, I got no pay; privilege was irrelevant.  I was hired based on my ability to sell myself; self-reliance works.  And, the harder and smarter I worked, the more I got paid.

Of course, this was not a job anybody could do.  It was dirty, disgusting, and dangerous.  Almost daily, I had cuts on my hands and splinters in my fingers.  There were no safety gloves or protective eye equipment.  While safety does pay, it was not our main concern.  Safety ranked pretty low on our priority list.

I also learned to be brutally frank but also polite.  There’s an old Southern quote that says, “You can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.”  So being honest and open pays, especially in the long term (for a teenager, the long term is more than a week).  Local folks would ask me to look for specific items and gave me a few quarters for my trouble.  I told them whether I could deliver or not, and kept my promise.  I couldn’t imagine that people would give me money for a future effort.

I learned too that you had to be polite with people.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t treat you very well and certainly not give me money. Now, it is important to remember I’m a 13-year-old, and yet I saw it happen.  Without this “job,” I would not have made this revelation.  If there had been a minimum wage, my boss would not have hired me.  He made money because I made money for him.  It gave me an opportunity, and not only was it a bit of fun, but I also became well known in my small town.

My boss was the town mayor.  He had a son, Randy, who became one of my best friends in those days.  So there was value outside work.  Later, when I had my first girlfriend, I had a few dollars left over, far more than any other boys my age.  We would have married (true story), but I moved away soon after I went to Middle School and later joined the Army.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “The Old Town Dump and Leadership

  1. Wendy Holmes

    Funny and entertaining. Thank you, Gen. Satterfield!

  2. Max Foster

    There are going to be many unintended consequences of our reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic. What will some of them be?

  3. Randy Goodman

    Even more good news for me and the rest of the world (although our political elite will never admit it). In a world where the once-steady march of globalization hit strong head winds in recent years from nationalist governments, the novel coronavirus pandemic has done more to suddenly halt and reverse the notion of open – and easily crossed – borders than perhaps any other event in modern history.

    1. Linux Man

      I agree with you Randy that stepping back from this ideology of “globalization” will be a good thing for the human race. But, there are of course plenty of benefits in globalization. Let’s play a wait and see position.

    2. Mikka Solarno

      Right but more COVID-19 bad news is on the horizon.

  4. Fred Weber

    Good news and some bad.
    “A 90-year-old woman who contracted coronavirus at Life Care Center senior care facility in Seattle has recovered, her family says. Life Care Center experienced a massive spread of the virus in mid-February. According to a CDC investigation, 62% of the roughly 130 elderly residents had become infected and more than a quarter of them have died.”

    1. KenFBrown

      Yes, a good-news story and an illustration of what proper reporting should be. There is one thing in this whole mess that I learned. Never trust the media or politicians. Enough said. Trust is earned. They lost it long ago.

  5. Doug Smith

    Just another example of how the minimum wage can kill jobs and also creativity at the same time. I am personally for getting rid of it all together. Now that this coronavirus thing is out and about, maybe we can get back to those policies that actually worked for the betterment of most of us and not for some leftest ideal fantasy.

    1. Ed Berkmeister

      Overreaction? Probably. Newest headlines!
      “MASS LOCKDOWN Coronavirus – Illinois joins New York and California to give ‘stay at home order’ affecting 20% of citizens”

  6. Shawn C. Stolarz

    Ah, the old five and dime stores. Loved them. Too bad they are all gone and now replaced by huge department stores that are 500 and 1000 dollar stores.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      So true. I remember them too. Well, time moves on and we all have to adapt. Remember that the young folks today are much more superior to you and I in every way. They never had a job or they only had one job or one type of job in their lives but they know better than either you and I and they are willing to use that as a weapon whenever we “step out of line.” Dictator wannabes.

    2. Yusaf from Texas

      Yeah, I remember too. Thanks Shawn for taking me back in time. I’m happy someone else remembered these. Gen. Satterfield has a knack for also pushing us back in time where certain ways of behaving always seemed to work. FYI, I hear he’s also from TEXAS!

      1. Joe Omerrod

        I heard the same. But I will add that since he was in the US army, he probably lived all over the USA.

  7. Lynn Pitts

    Gen. Satterfield, I’ve enjoyed your short series on the many jobs you had while growing up in the Deep South. I went back and re-read some of the older ones just a few days ago. Thanks. 😊 Keep us smiling!

  8. Jonnie the Bart

    Well, I’m here and now recently unemployed. While I was in the service sector, making a good living by being a legal tech, I was on my way thru working college at night to be a full-fledged lawyer. That all came to an abrupt end when this whole virus thing hit. I wonder how many other folks had their dreams dashed. But, I will say that it has not stopped me from pursuing other avenues to a positive future for myself and family.

    1. Wilson Cox

      Hang in there, Jonnie. Things will work out. I have found that people with a positive attitude, willingness to work hard, and a good brain, will always always succeed in life. SOmetimes it takes a little longer for one obstacle or another has gotten in their way. Don’t fret. You will pull it out.

  9. Wavy Girl

    Forrest Gumpest! You are just too funny in the morning. I’ll be sure not to drink when reading this forum next time.

  10. Tom Bushmaster

    Hard to imagine a young teenager learning to be ‘brutally frank’ especially in those times. I think most of us were mushes.

    1. Georgie B.

      Dweebs is more like it. I was a pushover. Apparently among the many ‘jobs’ you had as a young man, you learned a few things along the way that the rest of us (without any jobs due to minimum wages) didn’t get a chance to learn. My first job was in college when I worked in the library.

    2. Forrest Gump

      I heard somewhere that the average college student has never had a job, any job of any kind at all. Those that did, were usually baby sitters. The men were just playing games in their parent’s basements. When they got to college they figured that everything they got was just because they existed and they deserved it. Well, you already know what I’m going to say ……… “stupid is as stupid does.”

  11. Eva Easterbrook

    Great story from your childhood. Thanks Gen. Satterfield.

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