The Donkey and the Carrot

Windsor, Ontario…..

I’ve mentioned this place far more often in the past couple of months than I used to, and certainly more than I’d like to.

We’ve got some serious issues here. The main one, well, it’s that hardly anybody can find a job.

Just a few weeks back, there was a job fair in Windsor. The local newspaper reported how overwhelmed the employers in the booths felt when they realized there were over 1500 people lined up outside.

They were overwhelmed because, collectively, there were only about 100 real jobs to be filled.

Metaphorically, we’ve got a group of donkeys chasing the ever-illusive carrot.
donkey-carrot.jpg

You’ve heard and seen the analogy before, right? The donkey moves forward by chasing the carrot which is always slightly out of reach.

Times were good here for a long time. People made good money building things in the manufacturing sector. People got used to decent wages and a high quality of life.

Now, a lot of those jobs are gone.

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to be hired for student employment at one of the bigger metal stamping factories near where I live. That factory is now closed down.

We were paid enormous amounts of money to press buttons and stick chunks of metal on a machine – non-stop, all day long.

Was it hard work? Sometimes it was, but it was more mind-numbing than anything else.

A typical day went like this:

The workers would create a certain number of parts and then call it a day…Sometimes four hours early!

The foreman would tell the union rep we were done for the day, and that was that. Sometimes an argument ensued, but for the most part that was it.

The workers wouldn’t create a single part more than what was required. If the quota said 800 parts and it only took 4-hours of an 8-hour day, the workers were still paid for the remaining 4-hours.

Sometimes this meant sitting outside or shooting hoops, napping in the lunch room, playing cards, reading etc… You couldn’t leave though. You had to stay until your shift was over to be paid for the entire day.

The next day, the foreman would say they needed 2000 parts created, and the union rep would say, “sorry we’re only doing 1500 parts today and that’s it!”

I remember sitting outside in my car, napping, and being paid $30+ per hour to sleep. I remember thinking to myself that there was no way this could continue forever.

Then it all came crashing down.

At that time, the donkeys were no longer chasing anything. They had found the MOTHERLOAD of carrots. The carrots were gorged and eaten in abundance. Unfortunately, the supply was abused and depleted, and now it’s gone.

Suddenly, we’ve got loads of people chasing a very small number of carrots again. This time, the donkeys are running faster than ever. The carrot never seems to get any closer.

There’s no time to be the donkey anymore. The jig is up. What would happen if you just stopped chasing the carrot and grew your own supply?