When I was released from active duty in the Navy, in September 1962, I rode a bus home to Charlotte from San Diego – three long, long days. On a ride like that you move around, sitting with this person for a while, then that one, shooting the breeze.
One day I sat with an iron worker who told me about his job, how he sometimes had to lean into the wind to keep from getting blown off a girder. [Just thinking about it scared me. Still does.] He also told me that he was paid $5.50 an hour, with another raise coming soon, to $5.75 an hour.
I was flabbergasted.
This guy was making more money in three eight-hour days than I made in a month when I was a seaman. And my shipmates and I didn’t work a little 40-hour week either, in port or at sea. When our ship, the USS Los Angeles, was at sea, which was right often, we were working, standing watch — or on call — 24/7.
And he had another raise coming.
[I know, $5.75, doesn’t sound like much now. But, adjusted for inflation, it’s the equivalent of $95,721 a year in 2016 dollars. When I graduated from college four years later I went to work for $3 an hour and I was told by a supervisor even that was way too much.]
So I asked this guy, “How much do you want to make!”
“More,” he replied.
Coming Friday: You Did WHAT?