Entitled Employers


I’ll post it in its entirety, since it won’t onebox at all:

I have 50 or 60 employees, whose jobs have skill requirements that run the gamut from “empty trash cans” to “mix a live band”. So every time I see my general manager standing on a ladder I say, “Surely you could have delegated this.” But unfortunately, it seems to be the case that almost nobody under 35 knows how to:

  • Replace a 3 prong outlet.
  • Replace a washer in a faucet.
  • Replace a sink’s p-trap.
  • Replace a door knob.
  • Put a screw into a piece of wood. All the way. Straight.
  • Figure out the part number of that rusty thing. Order one.
  • Use a table saw without dying.
  • Use masking tape for masking.

Dear service-industry millennials: take a shop class. Not only will your employer be able to give you more hours, but you’ll need to talk to your landlord a lot less often!

For context, the business referenced above is a night club.

Disclaimer: This is by no means the only example of this type of screed I have issues with, it just happens to be a particularly exemplar one.

First, the specifics: It seems like all of those items in the list are skill requirements for one or more of the 50 or 60 employees. If none of them (other than the general manager) have these skills, it seems to me like you have a couple of choices:

  • Replace your existing underskilled employees with ones that have these skills.
  • Train them. Every time your general manager is up on that ladder doing the job alone, they are missing out on an opportunity to teach someone else how to do it, so that next time they can delegate it.

Also, while none of these skills seem particularly difficult for someone who already has them, I’m struggling to figure out where most people would have learned them outside of personal projects or trade-specific training. Taking a shop class (whatever that means) isn’t likely to solve the problem, and even if it would I’m not seeing either an explicit or implicit offer for compensating the employee for taking on additional training, other than a vague more hours.

I get it. Small organizations often have to be more flexible at an individual level because they can’t afford to either hire for every need or contract out to fill those gaps. The problem is that this anger and frustration is misplaced. Stop blaming it on the employees. Why should they do more than was agreed upon during the hiring process? What’s in it for them? Service industry jobs are often (always?) high stress for low pay and low or no benefits.

I grow extremely weary of so-called entrepreneurs bemoaning the lack of qualified candidates who are willing to work your shitty jobs for your shitty wages, and most often pinning it on their generation. They’re not the problem, and their generation (an entirely artificial construct) isn’t the problem either. The problems are systemic, and require systemic solutions. Quit complaining about the results of an intentionally broken system. You just sound like an asshole.


Yeah, I’ve thought of jwz as a role model for many years, he’s been admirable in a lot of ways, but man that post was particularly tone-deaf.

And he even says right up front that job requirements range from “empty trash cans” to “mix a live band”. What’s conspicuously missing? Building maintenance. If you want your employees also trained in that, then, well, train them in that. It’s really that simple.

What the heck happened that all employers now expect entry-level employees to have a college degree and 5 years of experience and also apparently building maintenance training? Oh and also you need to already know the industry inside and out and our custom software that no one else in the world uses.

I just want to say “Come on dude, you’re better than that.” In fact I might go and do so.

Edit to add: I went and ranted at him but I kept it civil. We’ll see how/if he responds. He doesn’t generally take well to dissent, but he’s usually not this obviously wrong.


Or, ya know, maybe make it part of the job description and hire based on that? Though, good luck on finding those perfect candidates that can do it all but don’t want more pay.


I think there’s something to be said for making this kind of thing part of k-12 ed as well as remedial opportunities in community education. The problem is the way education is relentlessly shit on and made expensive by scumbags who want to just give all our money to cops and charter school conglomerates.

Tone deaf, yelling at clouds, sure, but yelling at rich people would go a long way toward making sense of the mess.

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Well apparently I’m in an argument with jwz now and he seems to think I’m an “absolute shithead”. Which I think is freakin’ hilarious. And he deleted my earlier comment (which I wish I’d gotten a screenshot of), so yes, of course I followed up. Keep in mind, I’m trying to be nice here.

I so wish I’d saved my first post, but it’s just gone now.


It’s funny how he seems to think his situation is unique to showbusiness or the service industry. Apparently no one who works in an office ever gets asked to do anything outside their job? My job usually involves sitting in front of a keyboard all day, and some of the stories I can tell about cleaning up messes, lugging crap around, or fixing things…

“Or, and here’s a novel idea, I could offer that gig to people that I already employ, and…”

…and then, apparently, make it their fault when they don’t have the skills that someone else, whose actual job includes those skills would have.


Glad my present employer actually had designated employee teams who are specialized in things like building maintainance, electrical engineering, and the like. You wouldn’t want your bartender to do open heart surgety — so why would any “employer” want their workers to abandon their core job to do electricians‘ work? Gah.


I agree. And some of those tasks are not exactly safe even for a DIY homeowner.

Replace a 3 prong outlet.

I can do that. I did a few in my house–until I got the wrong circuit breaker turned off, and zapped myself. Now I call an electrician.

Replace a washer in a faucet.
Replace a sink’s p-trap.

Nope. I’m no plumber. I did replace one of those rubber flap things in a toilet. The toilet is now touchy.

Replace a door knob.

Never done that. Maybe I could. At least it’s not likely to kill you.

Put a screw into a piece of wood. All the way. Straight.

I can do the first two fairly reliably. The third, not so reliably.

Figure out the part number of that rusty thing. Order one.

This task is not well defined.

Use a table saw without dying.

How about “without cutting my finger down the middle like a professional carpenter I knew did?”

BTW, I did learn how to use one of these. I took shop back in the Jurassic, and my dad had one he bought in the 1950’s that I used a few times. In ~2020, I acquired one for train layout bench work and other tasks. I approached using it with trepidation and the kind of concentration I no longer have. I will have to sell it sometime.

Use masking tape for masking.

That I can do. Reliably keeping the paint out of under the tape is something else entirely.


Electrical work for mains always needs test equipment. An easily portable incandescent lamp will suffice, but a test probe is best. It’s sort of like ladder safety.


I briefly considered commenting on that post, but given the general tenor of the comments at the time (mostly “hear hear” and “kids these days…”) and jwz’s typical response to dissent, I decided it would be best to leave it alone. Of course, then I posted about it here, so I’m probably just a coward. I do want to stress that I don’t see jwz as being unique in this attitude, and he’s certainly not the most extreme, I just found this particular post to be representative of a disappointing view of labor and employment.

To his hypothetical about painting a floor: This is not the same situation as asking someone to clean a toilet or carry some gear for a band. This is a project, even if it’s a small one. If you are making the choice between hiring a contractor for the project or offering it to an existing employee, I would question your motivations. I’m going to assume that he wouldn’t be planning on paying his employee the same hourly rate that he would pay the contractor, making it financially advantageous for him to choose the employee over the contractor. Sure, the employee also receives more money than they might otherwise for the extra hours, but I’m also guessing that those hours wouldn’t be offered if they would require overtime pay. To me, that says the reason that his employees always want extra hours is because they are underemployed, not because they just love working for him.

To be clear: In the vast majority of cases, someone starts a business (small or large) to make money, not because they love being an employer. Employees are a necessary part of most businesses simply because there isn’t currently a cheaper alternative. Similarly, most people choose to work for someone else not because they love working, but because there is no practical alternative. Because there are always fewer jobs than there are people to do them (by design), this creates a fundamental power imbalance between employers and employees. As I wrote above, this is a systemic issue.

One of my other annoyances is the weirdly pervasive idea that the value of labor is variable across industry, size of company, and age.

  • A plumber and a bartender fixing a pipe are doing the same work, the value of that work should not be different.
  • A cook at a small restaurant and one at a chain are doing the same work, so they should not be paid differently.
  • A 14-year-old and a 65-year-old working the register at a fast food restaurant are doing the same work, and should be paid the same.

I’m not claiming that every employer creates these conditions individually, but they absolutely benefit from them. The employees do not.


Honestly it seems like TOP has been taken over by an entitled nutjob, which is why I’m here and not there. Although I’m still sort of on Twitter, but that’s more of a trainwreck-from-a-safe-distance kind of thing.


And he deleted my second reply too. Didn’t even dignify it with a response. Now I know who my hero is.

Anyway, back on topic.

No, most businesses are about money not because you love running them and same for employees, we’re there for that paycheck. But it is a nightclub we’re talking about, I could kinda see doing that because you love it. But to assume and expect that of everyone else? That is, as stated in the thread title, just so entitled. Some people might be there for that, but it’s wrong to just assume that.

I could rant on this for quite awhile. Instead, I’ll share my own work story from today. (Actually this is a longer rant than I expected, but here it is anyway.)

I hit a mental roadblock and asked my supervisor for help and he gave me a decent suggestion but then also said I should bring it up to the team as a whole. So I did and we spent a good half hour brainstorming together. It was awesome.

Then later one of my coworkers needed review of his work and frankly I don’t understand it so I asked if he could walk me through it and explain things, and he did. And there were still some things I didn’t understand and I said “I’d like to help you with this, but it’s just out of my area of knowledge” and he mentioned two other people who know more about that stuff than I do, so I tagged them in.

Then a separate issue came up and I did my best to respond and assist but quickly realized that was not my area of expertise, but I knew who was an expert in that so I called him in and he quite handily fixed it. I was able to assist and support, but he’s the expert in that stuff, so I knew to just hand it off and stand by to help as I could.

That is how we do things as professionals - we work in teams and we play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses and call in help when we need it. Why the heck would you expect more than that professionalism out of min-wage service workers?


The fact that they knew to say that they didn’t know how to do those things is already more professional behavior than the guy complaining about it.


A post was split to a new topic: Happy Slice-of-Cake Day!

So, “Dear bartender, why aren’t you a free handyman?” That attitude has always been a jwz thing, back to the days when he was at Netscape.

I’ve heard from my remaining relatives there that hiring a handyman in urban California is fraught with difficulties, and expensive. Any of the Nextdoors in those areas only reinforce that.

It’s remarkably tone-deaf though, to complain that your employees won’t do handyman work for free.

Good to see he’s still an asshole though. Leopards don’t change their spots.


It also sounds like he never took any industrial arts classes himself. I took Auto Shop in high school because I wanted to take a Jewelry class (the arcaneness of high-school electives!). Granted, this was in 1982, but it gave me an appreciation of what has to be done to work on a car, as well as how to deal with/endure asshole classmates.


I think the book, “Working” by Studs Terkel, should be required reading in high schools.

This is an excerpt from his interview with Ward Quaal, who doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry; no matter, you can find more info about him on the 'net, maybe even the full interview (the emphasis is mine, btw):

The number one thing in any business is to go get a background, so you can show your people you can do anything they can do. My people today know I can announce any show they could, I can write a script, I can produce a show, I can handle a camera. If I still had the voice, I would enjoy being back on the air again.”


Classes in blue-collar trades like carpentry or auto repair used to be common in high school — dunno about recently — perhaps JWZ thinks there are still Millennials in high school


… no way — even as a customer clubbing more than a couple times a week starts to feel like a job

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He runs the place, and yet spends much of his time complaining about it.

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