i A Time and a Place...: The Cost Of Working...Something to Think About...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Cost Of Working...Something to Think About...

In 1949 I was thirteen years old and working in the oil patch in Odessa, Texas, for B&B Construction Company as a roustabout for Phillips Petroleum. The job was hard sometimes and easy at other times, depending on what we had to do on any given day.

Sometimes I worked in a very oily invironment, on a pulling unit or a swabbing unit or something else that meant I would be getting very oily and dirty. At times, even hooking up a tank battery or heater treater or separator was messy, mostly from oil.

At that time I worked for $1.25 an hour with time and a half for any time over 40 hours a week. Our work week was 5 and 1/2 days long, five ten hour days and half a day on Saturday. So I worked about 55 hours a week and earned about $68.75 before taxes. As I recall, my take home pay was about 61 bucks a week. Now for the fun part!

I'll use a particular week as an example:

This week I worked on a pulling unit. I pulled sucker rods and each time the rods came up, oil from the hole would flow out. My job was taking the end of each rod and pulling it out onto a rack so it would stack neatly as it came out of the hole. As a result, my cotton gloves were saturated with oil.

I used the cheapest gloves I could buy because, no matter what kind of glove I used, they were only good for a day or two and my sister wouldn't let me wash them in her machine so every day or two I had to buy new gloves. It amazes me that I would spend so much money on gloves. I paid a dollar a pair for my gloves. That means I spent around three to four bucks a week for gloves. That's between five and 15 percent of my paycheck after taxes.

Well, 'duh'..you say! So what? - 'What', is this:

The last year I worked full time I earned about $68,000 working 49 weeks. That's between 1100 and 1400 bucks a week.

Yes!--Yes--..Go On! OK-OK! Just hold on!

Well, guess what? Yesterday I bought a pair of cotton gloves just like the ones I bought in 1949...I still paid a buck for them! Isn't that fascinating!

So in 1949 I spent about 7% of my wages on cotton gloves. At the same rate of use today I would spend about .003% of my takehome!

Now I ask you, isn't that interesting? While my rate of pay went up around 2,000 percent, the price of cotton gloves stayed the same! Go figure!



Blogger bigwhitehat said...

This is because, in that time, ingenuity eliminated the need for cotton pickers.

6:45 AM  

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