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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Why Dig a Ditch

An elderly couple retired to the countryside – to a small isolated cottage overlooking some rugged and rocky heathland. One early morning the woman saw from her window a young man dressed in working clothes walking in the distance, about a hundred yards away. He was carrying a spade and a small case, and he disappeared from view behind a group of trees.

The woman thought no more about it but around the same time the next day she saw the man again, carrying his spade and a small case, and again he disappeared in the trees. The woman mentioned this to her husband, who said he was probably just setting traps and not to worry.

However after several more sightings of the young man with the spade over the next two weeks the woman persuaded her husband to take a stroll – early, before the man tended to arrive – to the group of trees to investigate what he was doing.

There they found a surprisingly long and deep trench, rough and uneven at one end, becoming much neater and tidier towards the other end. “How strange,” the old lady said, “Why dig a trench here – and in such difficult rocky ground?” and her husband agreed.  Just then the young man appeared – earlier than his usual time. “You’re early,” said the old woman, making light of their obvious curiosity, “We wondered what you were doing – and we also wondered what was in the case.” “I’m digging a trench,” said the man, who continued, realizing a bigger explanation was appropriate, “I’m actually learning how to dig a good trench, because the job I’m being interviewed for later today says that experience is necessary – so I’m getting the experience. And the case – it’s got my lunch in it.”

And guess what… he got the job.

This is the “can do attitude” that has helped build our country into a great nation.  He didn’t settle for not getting the job because he didn’t have the experience. He took the initiative to go get the experience he needed to land the job.

Unfortunately the mindset of our young ditch digger want-to-be seems to be as out of date as the three ton computer. When I was a young, we weren’t allowed to have fun until our chores were done.  That meant the cattle were fed and water checked, making our beds and cleaning up the house. If chores weren’t done, we didn’t get to play.

Recently I had the misfortune to deal with a couple of young whippersnappers (always wanted to use that word) supposedly working a pharmacy (not in Tama County). They could certainly see I was looking for something in particular, but do you think they could drag themselves away from their trivial reality show conversation? Nope. These young girls were totally rude and unpleasant and quite frankly they both looked like something the cat dragged in. Immediately I could see that glazed look in their eyes, very typical of zombies and when I asked if they had the particular item, they both just looked at me with that completely blank look as if I was the one who had come from a different planet and one of them mumbled something (inaudible gibberish) and went back to chatting with her “coworker” and completely ignored me.

Now before I start fielding calls from proud parents exclaiming all the virtues of their kids, I want everyone to realize that SOME of the younger people have an excellent work ethic – these are not the focus of this article. I believe that it is time for MANY in this country to embrace the mindset of the young ditch digger and start taking the initiative that is needed to improve.


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