Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pulling Up Dandelions: The Roots of Making Money

I spent part of my weekend hanging out with a friend who was bemoaning the weedy state of her lawn. I offered to help do some gardening and ended up spending a while crawling around tugging up weeds, which was actually rather pleasant-- probably because it was someone else's yard and I could stop whenever I felt like it!

As I amused myself with this pastime, I found that it put me in a sort of meditative state, as mindless tasks often do. I kept thinking about how I had to yank out as much as possible of the dandelion roots to keep them from growing back. Suddenly, I had a flashback about why I had this fixation on the correct way of pulling out dandelions: it's because I was once paid to do it! I forget how old I was, but I think it was a neighbor across the street who offered to pay me to pull out dandelions, but only if I did it correctly. If I presented him with the pulled out dandelions, he would pay me some small amount for each one, but only after counting the roots. It's funny how that lesson has stayed with me ever since. Though I'd forgotten exactly why for approximately 30 years, I don't think I've ever pulled a dandelion without feeling dissatisfied if I didn't pull up the roots.

I did other odd jobs as a kid-- raking, babysitting, stuffing envelopes and writing checks for a bookkeeper-- but I can't think of any specific lessons those jobs taught me that still come into play today (other than the most general things like "grab the baby and run if the house is on fire").

Do you remember little jobs you did as a kid? Did the people who hired you turn it into a lesson and make sure you did it right, or just give you money for trying? Let's hear some stories!


1001 Petals said...
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Nicole said...

It's too bad dandelions are seen as such a blight that many people douse their lawns in chemicals to get rid of them. The greens are among the most nutritious of the leafy veggies, and the heads can be used in natural dyeing and for making dandelion wine.

Either I'm a hippie or am just really frugal.

Anonymous said...

i worked in an insurance office in high school doing clerical work,mostly stuffing envelopes for mailings.

One day i found a note on my desk and the owner absent. The note basically said we don't need you anymore, and there was a large bonus check i think the owner put in there out of guilt.

What I learned: Don't be too efficient or you'll work yourself out of a job.Hmm.

Anonymous said...

My father would pay me by the bucket for the weeds and dandelions in the driveway and yes, he stipulated that they had to have the roots otherwise they didn't count! These were five gallon buckets and I would mostly get bored before I could pull up a bucketfull. Oooh I was so mad when they broke off at the ground!

EM Lewis said...

I kept house for an elderly neighbor who had lived through the depression. It was great -- I'd come once a week, vacuum and dust and such, and then after we'd sit and talk. Such a great lady. During one of our conversations, she found out I'd never made apple cobbler before, and she decided that she would show me how. So the next time I came, she did! The first thing I did wrong was how I peeled the apple. "Don't get any of the apple in there! No white on the peel!" she said. *That's* frugality! And I've kept it in mind ever since... (I'm here from Love in the Time of Foreclosure)

Gord said...

I did paper routes, delivered prescriptions, painted fences ..... anything for a buck.

Too bad so many of those jobs are no longer available. Kids can't do most paper routes anymore because of the liability. Adults do them in their cars, not too green, I'm afraid.

The paper route in the 60's taught me the most. You got a bill (invoice) from the newspaper for the papers you received, and if your collections were not very successful (yes, some people stiffed you) you could lose money. $1.85 for a month's worth of daily papers .... Worth the lessons I think.

Interesting topic, thanks X.

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com said...

I do the roots on dandelions too, pushed by my parents as a kid

I also got mad when they ripped in the ground!

I delivered papers as a kid. I hated it, but at least I lost a bit of weight as a result.

When i stopped, I got fat LOL

Ms. Frugalicious said...

I watered plants for neighbors who were on vacation, and I did some babysitting. I also cleaned house for a next-door neighbor. She would always write me checks, though, and I was too young to drive, so sometimes they would sit around for awhile until I remembered to have my parents take me to the bank to deposit them.

A friend of mine just gave me an advance copy of Loral Langemeier's new book, "Put More Cash in Your Pocket." The premise is that you can use the skills you used as a child, or any other skills you have developed over the years, to start a lucrative sideline business. Maybe you could start making money from lawn maintenance!

Amy K. said...

First money making memory: Picking apricots. I think my Mom's cousin owned the orchard, and she was paid by the bushel. My baby brother and I tagged along. I think he was 6 and I was 8. I remember I got $12 and he only got $8 because he ate too many!

I have been enjoying the single minded trance like state of pulling the lawn weeds this year. I have a 5qt bucket, plunk it down on the lawn, sit my butt down, and pull 'til the bucket is full. With no distractions except the birds singing and the occasional earthworm, it's really peaceful.

frugal zeitgeist said...

I remember pestering my folks for chores to do for money, which didn't go over too well: we got allowances every week, and chores were simply expected. When I got older, I babysat. That was right about the time I first decided that having children was not for me!

Great question, Madame X.