Column: GET HIGH ON LIFEBy Harold Keller / L’Observateur / February 11, 1998

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 1998


Often, when dealing with young men who are incarcerated, I find that they, like most of us, like to blame their problem on anything but themselves.

One of the most popular cop-outs that I’ve heard repeatedly is: If I had a good job, I wouldn’t have gotten into trouble. I usually respond with: Youprobably only wanted a job but are unwilling to do the work.

Over the years, as I’ve traveled the River Parishes area, some people in industry are amazed how the workforce in this area want a job, but are unwilling to do the work.

At present, some of the larger industries in the area are having what they call “turnarounds.” Contractors come in the plants with their own workforce to clear up any problems. In other words, to do an overhaul of thatparticular plant.

I’ve heard that there is a shortage of skilled labor. In fact, one man toldme that it’s scary. It’s bad enough that some people are just plain lazy,but another factor that hinders the workforce is that 15 to 20 percent who could be hired, lazy or not, fail the mandatory drug test.

Just a few years ago the unemployment rate was rather high in our area.

Today, anybody who wants to work can find a job. Last week in thisnewspaper, a front-page article said that TransAmerican Refining Corp. ofNorco was going to give away a new Dodge Ram pickup truck to try and retain their workers. Can you believe this? An incentive to stay on the job,other than good pay and employee benefits? Recently I asked a young man, approximately 30 years old, if he ever had a good job. “No,” he said. “The reason,” I said, “is that you probably don’twant to work.” He just smiled. I continued, “I challenge you to zero in on ajob that you really want. Go to the establishment and tell the person incharge, confidently, that you’re applying for the position because you want to work. Tell him anybody can get a job, but you want to work for a living.””He will be shocked,” I told him, “but I guarantee that you’ll get the position.”The dictionary defines job as employment. The definition of work is laboror something accomplished.

Business and industry do not exist by employing people. They prosper andgrow by something being accomplished by the employed.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

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