Updated: Nov 6
The year was 1965, and I was a high school student at Leamington College For Boys. Money was tight, and the need for some extra cash led me to Jim Kreber's farm, just down the road from our cul-de-sac. Jim was in the business of chickens and pigs, and soon enough, so was I.
Every weekday morning, I'd be up and at 'em, clocking in at the farm by 5 a.m. The chickens and pigs needed feeding, and I was the lad for the job. By 7:30, I'd be back home, quickly changing out of my farm clothes to catch the bus for the long ride to school. Weekends were even more gruelling, filled with the delightful task of shovelling chicken poo and cleaning pig pens. It was hard, dirty work, but I was earning my keep—one shilling and sixpence an hour.
I was diligent, putting in the hours and doing a fantastic job. Even after school, I'd head back to the farm for a couple more hours of work. Then one day, Jim hired a new guy, a man in his 30s. He did half the work I did but earned a whopping five shillings an hour. The injustice of it all gnawed at me.
Summoning all the courage I could muster, I approached Jim for a raise. My hands were clammy, my voice shaky, but I needed to stand up for myself. "Could I get two shillings and sixpence an hour? Half a crown?" I asked, hopeful for a bit of fairness.
Jim's answer was a resounding "no." I was flabbergasted. All that hard work, the early mornings, the endless shovelling, and this was how I was repaid? I made my decision right then and there—I left.
In hindsight, Jim was the foolish one. He lost a hardworking employee over a mere shilling. But for me, it was a lesson learned the hard way, a lesson about the value of work and the importance of standing up for what's fair, even when you're knee-deep in muck.