How Many People Have Zero Practical Skills In Today’s Society?

PROBLEM: Most people are trained in just one specialty. And it’s usually some sort of service rather than manufacture.

It may not seem problematic to be trained specifically for a single specialty service skill. Actually, it is a good thing to have a specialty. Most of us do have a particular skill that we’re good at. We tend to career in such things, because we excel there.

So what’s the problem? Usually it’s not. But it does require a stable functioning cohesive society for all this to work.

Logically a society will advance in many ways when individuals are really good at a skill. These skills enable products and services for the society at large. We all benefit from it. People are paid for their specialty work, and when they need a product or service outside of their abilities, they hire it out. Pay for it. Pretty basic, but that’s how it works. Everything alright so far?

However when a society breaks down (“Come on Ken, that’ll never happen!”), those who have multiple “practical” skills will be better off. So from a preparedness point of view, you might say that a “Jack (or Jill) of all trades” is generally preferred under those circumstances.

Many people can’t do the most basic things…

I have known MANY people throughout my career(s) who couldn’t do much of anything else – except what they were specifically trained in. I’m not knocking them for it. It mostly works in a functioning society because there are other people to do those other things.

But it sometimes struck me as interesting how so many people can’t even do some of the most basic things. Or comprehend how to.

Again, wow, I am sure glad that there are highly talented experts out there (e.g. brain surgeons) and I could care less that they may not be skilled in other areas! But I’m speaking generally here. Today it seems that most every person only knows one skill (their “job”).

What happened to the practical trades?

When I was young… (well I still am in my mind ;) ), there were LOTS of trades that young adults could go into. In high school there were a number of classes where we learned a little about each of the major trades. We got some “hands-on”. The girls had their own types of classes too which I’m sure today would be considered gender biased or something… Hey, what ever happened to “Home Ec” class? Egads!! How demeaning to suggest that!

Young people were introduced to many practical trades “back in the day”. Many chose these avenues and went on to “trade schools” or would apprentice. While others went on to college for other higher skills.

Practical Skills

So what am I getting at here?

I guess it just “strikes me” when interacting with someone who may be very good at the one thing, but can barely tie their shoe laces. Wow would that person be in trouble if SHTF. And there are a lot like those out there.

It just seems to me that it’s a good idea to know how to do many things (especially those skills which are practical) rather than being expert in just one. Again, that’s from a general preparedness standpoint.

I am so glad that I have learned many basic, practical, hands-on electro-mechanical skills over my lifetime. I managed to work a few related careers which advantaged that. So it worked out well enough for me.

Eventually I worked my way into a management role. Though the pay was better, I didn’t like it so much. But that was mostly due to interactions with “higher ups” who hadn’t a clue (or didn’t much care) about those down the totem pole. They were the ones who couldn’t fix a “fill int the blank” if their life depended on it. Though I’m painting with a broad brush, many of you likely know what I’m talking about…

Back to the topic. Most people are trained in one area. One skill. One specialty. And most people today don’t seem to have much of any practical sense or practical skills.

Just think about a collapsing society where most everyone has no practical skills. What a mess!

Teach your kids how to make things. They might like it.


  1. FIVE PEOPLE, in the first 30 minutes this morning. Father’s who received lawnmowers yesterday:

    Caller: My engine stopped running and won’t turn!
    Rep: Did you put oil in the crankcase?
    Caller: Don’t need to, oil’s already in it.
    Rep: Sir, that is just a shine of oil, leftover when when they tested it and drained it at the factory.
    Caller: Well, you oughta tell folks that
    Rep: Sir, did you RTFM?
    Caller: Uhh, whut?
    Rep: Did you notice the bright, fluorescent hang tag on the dipstick, warning you to add oil?
    Caller: Hey, don’t you sass me! I want my money back!
    Rep: Sir, we don’t have your money, and you destroyed your engine by running it with no oil
    Caller: Arrrghhhh Warrgarbblll, Made in China piece of sxxx; I’ll sue you!
    Rep: Sir, please don’t yell at me, all gasoline engines need oil
    Caller: Then y’all shoulda put in for me, stupid
    Rep: Sir, please don’t call me stupid, transportation laws prohibited shipping mowers full of oil.
    Caller: Aww, I see y’all in Cal-EE-Fornia huh? Selling them Chinese mowers! Ahhh shoulda known!
    Rep: Sir, this really has nothing to do with a seized engine caused by oil starvation.
    Caller: Aww, ya know fxxx-You! And shove this commie mower up your axx, while yer at it! (CLICK!)

    Any questions?

    1. My wife just points and says to me, “It’s broke!”

      “What’s wrong with it?”

      “It’s broken. Fix it.”

      “But, what is wrong with it?”

      “The “thingy” doesn’t move, when I push the, “thingy.”

      “Oh! Well have you tried pushing the other “thingy” down, before pushing the, “thingy?”

      “I pushed all the “THINGIES” and it’s broke!!”

      “Okay, let me take a look….”

      1. My Wife started to be one of those and I corrected that quickly. I told her not to use those technical terms for one. Two, I said I don’t understand you, when you say thingy. THEN of all things I told her to fix it herself. She learned 2 things there. 1 if you are going to use something, understand how it works before using it and 2 I’m not her servant. Now she does. If something breaks she will take a stab at it and will break it down to the point where she is having problems and I take over.

    2. Wow, a person would have to have the patience of a saint to deal with people like that. It astounds me how many just don’t know how to think, reason, or even just be observant any more!

      1. Farmgirl –

        I’ve got the most patient, tolerant, professional group of people ever. I’m the monster they keep in the corner for the really bad ones. The worst ones don’t scream and yell. They talk like Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, with the cadence and affect of an NPR host on IV Haldol. They worm into your head and screw with your psyche. Those ones get transferred to hell; then I eat them. Happens a couple times per week.

        1. Drive around your area and look in parking lots for a vehicle that looks like it came out of Mel Gibson’s Road Warrior Movies. They are called rat rods or rat bikes. Made from scavenged parts, held together by unorthodox means. I think it started in England. Find the driver, but be cautious. Without exception they seem to be hard core rebels. They are suspicious. Most do respond favorably to compliments on the unique, original approach to the vehicle. My long story short, I buy the beer, watch, listen and learn. Never try to use them as a mechanic, that’s not their bag. It is incredible what they can do.

    3. That’s a good example. Because SO MANY PEOPLE lack ordinary practical skills and knowledge that used to be taught and learned through ordinary “life” experience (back in the day) — THIS IS WHY WE’RE DOOMED… (at least one of the reasons)

      1. I remember when I was a very young kid in school. The topic would come up about careers. We all said various things like police officer, fireman, and doctor. Recently, when I was teaching some classes, the career topic came up. No one said policem fire, or doctor. They all said either sports star or game designer. WOW how things have changed.

        1. INPrepper, yup, son just graduated from college with a degree in game design. Guess what he is looking for a job and all of them say “must have a masters degree/eight years experience”. Have tried to get him to expand his options by getting a job (like a trade) other than Game designer but, NOPE! Now he is trying to get a job with the state doing data entry, hope he finds something PDQ.

        2. Yeah, hope he has success finding the right job. It kind of sucks for everyone right now as the job market is pretty tight.

        3. Make them pay for their own education and they wont go for ridiculous degrees,,,

        4. INPrepper,
          Things have changed. The one thing that changed is that “higher Education” has become a business, rather than a support. These kids are now told they can “follow their dreams” and get a degree in just about anything. And while I think it is important to have some people go study and become experts in such diverse subjects as “19th Century South American Poetry” Or “minority Studies”, just how many of these degreed experts does the country need??? Is there a great need for people trained to this? very few. But the kids have been sold on the idea they can get a degree in anything they like, and when they get out they will make tons of $$ based on their degree. The Federal Government has been complicit with the colleges and universities by making it easy for kids to take out huge loans to get “marginal” degrees, but with no one really counselling the kids about what degrees are going to be in demand and actually provide paying jobs. The colleges and universities make tons of money because everyone has been sold on the idea of “a college degree in ‘anything’ is the way to make tons of $$”. Higher education for the most part has become a racket.
          The best thing any of use can do is help young high school kids find a path forward that makes sense for them. If they have the aptitude, maybe college for a degree in a field that has future needs for trained people. If they are more “hands on”, help them see that going to Tech School, or maybe apprenticing to a trade is the best option for them. If they insist that they want to study “underwater basket weaving”, tell them fine, they can learn that on the side, but they need to get practical education, skillset, or trade that is in demand in order to have a job and make a living when they get done. (sorry for being long winded. This is one of my pet peeves.)

        5. Miner,
          Agree 100%
          I would try and get a different answer out of the kids by asking different questions. One was-What are you good at? Not what you like.
          The answer——Games
          Then I thought, stupid question. Of course their good at games as they play video games three or four hours or more a day everyday. So I tried something else to check and that was doing an activity making something. In short order it became a game and since there wasn’t the feedback you get from a tv screen, they grew bored after a bit. It was tough because everything had to be in the format of a game/competition. There was no working on something to learn or just enjoy.

        6. INPrepper,
          Electronic games are very addicting. When I was raising kids I refused to buy the kids any at all. My daughter only allows 1 hour a day for my grandkids, but she and the SIL work to find.other things outside for he kids. Electronic games are the biggest killer of imagination in our youth today. What a great way to ruin a child.

      2. Whats this “we’re” shit,,,,
        They, them, those be doomed.
        If ya been doin this very long yall got yer popcorn n sodie pop and lawn chair ready to sit n watch…,
        That said,
        Most people got no practical skills. What the hell good is a degree in art history if you cant cook dinner?

        1. The popcorn better have butter (movie theater popcorn butter) and salt. Now we’re talking. Enjoy the show.

      3. This is an everyday occurrence.. I would like to have my prescription refilled… ok sir…. ( of many on file) .. what would like to refill today? I don’t what it is, it’s just a white pill.. I’m sorry sir.. we have lots of white pills , do you know what your taking it for? No I don’t , it’s white & you should know what I take..all the while it’s my fault bc he doesn’t know what he takes or what it’s for!! This worries me for people when an emergency should arise for them & the pharmacy is closed.

    4. I get people everyday. I need spark plugs. What is the year make and model of the vehicle. I don’t know it’s my wife’s car. I need to know this to get you the right part. I thought you were the expert I’ll just go to the other auto parts store. Ok sir have a good day.

      1. What’s that Johnny Cash song? One part at a time. He built a car one part at a time and it had parts from many different years. 52, 53, 54, 55. Something like that. Hehe

        1. Like a friend of mine, 53 ford pickup chop top with a blown 454 Chevy and TH400 in it with the front end off a 60s dodge and rear off a 70s IH
          It was bright red and on the side big artwork with the name ChopSuey
          His wifes name was sue

        2. “One Piece at a Time.” Great song, even if the ethics are horrible!

    5. Back when among the things I did was Toro rep.
      One of my jobs was to put the quart of oil that came with every mower “into” it’s mower.
      The single biggest reason for push mower returns was seized engine because the new owner didn’t read the instructions and didn’t understand why a quart of oil woild be in the box..

  2. 97% of all current college grads…… unless you mean the use of a game console controller…..

    1. What’s even worse are the graduates in some areas that have absolutely zero skill transferrability outside academia. Women’s studies, minority histories, or acting. May be nice to know but that is it. Community organizer (former Optus), 1skill–calling people on the phone to organize a protest.
      On the farm, the old mechanic (may he Rest In Peace) could fix or weld up almost anything. He fabricated things that just blew my mind. But yet I bet he had no idea how to turn on a desktop computer little alone log in. He could retire the old trucks and tractors but would take a back seat when it came to modern electronics. He was more than a jack of many trades. He was a master of many trades.

  3. Increase in specialization and decrease in generalization has also led to a decrease in common sense. More specialization means less of us have anything in common. With nothing in common there can be no common sense.

  4. When I grew up we mowed the grass so we learned to maintain the mower, I helped work on tractors, farm trucks, harrows etc. You helped build sheds, repair barns, put in fence posts, cut and split wood and other projects. We tuned our own engines and knew the difference between the gaps on a set of points versus a spark plug.

    In the summer I learned to can by helping my Mom as well as learning to cook from scratch not a box or a can. If you wanted spending money you worked for it. We hunted in the Fall and Winter and fished during the Spring and Summer.

    Today the only skills required to exist are how to turn the computer or cellphone on or off and how to order whatever you need. Self-reliance and “the old ways” were abandoned and left to us old farts but one day they will be in great demand.

  5. Don’t worry. Everything will work itself out. It’s just that when it does, there shall be far fewer people stumbling about, if any people make it at all.

    We should just be concerned with immediate future needs, just so we can live long enough to address our immediate future needs, once again…and so on. We shall not be able to save everyone, nor should we even try.

    The Time is upon us all. What is coming, shall come. Everything shall be as it must be, as it cannot be anything else.

    Concern yourself within the confines of your family and with those, whom you love. Get them ready. Teach them. Lend them your talents and demonstrate to them your skills.

    But, if the time comes when you realize events are going to overwhelm you, and you no longer have a future need, make your last actions count.

  6. Can you imagine how much money you would have spent, had you NOT been knowledgeable about an automotive power train, during your life?

    Mechanics take their families on Hawaiian Vacations on the sea of ignorance pushing through their garage doors.

    1. Ision,
      Remember that commercial from early ’80s era?
      Guy takes his car to the mechanic and says,” what’s that looking like?”
      Mechanic says,” 2 weeks in Waikiki!”
      Lol. Thanks for the memory of better times.😜

    2. The one area of my knowledge weakness is automotive mechanic…. So what did, I went out and purchased an old 80’s suburban “The Rig” for 3k and learned how to fix it up. Everytime I work on it I gain more skill and understanding in mechanics at an exponential rate. A few more years I should be good to go on this skill set to handle most problems. The Rig keeps on crapping out worn out parts that need changing. I sure am keeping ACDelco in business 🙂

      1. White Cracker:

        Whatcha got in that ‘burb? 350 w/4 bolt main, or a 454? Either way, that’s a friggin’ unit alright.

        1. 350, 4WD minimal rust excellent condition… Wiring is an issue right now on it. considering re engineering the power windows to manual crank.

  7. I was fortunate to be part of a change at my high school where shop and home economics stopped being gender specific. My dad wanted me to be an architect so when I walked into the freshman year drafting class at a new school, the boys tried to re-direct me to the home ec room. One of my female friends took the small engines shop class the next year. It was during the farm crisis and she rebuilt her family’s lawn mower engine.

    Our country desperately needs to add these general vocational classes back to the curriculum to equip our youth for the realities of life. In addition, for those students for whom college isn’t an optimum route, it would expose them to some options. My college educated husband always regrets his family and school counselors never suggested he consider the trades. We would have reached a sustainable middle class income much quicker than the college based route he took. And he would have been happier.

    There is a personal dignity that comes with knowing you are capable in the face of adverse conditions.

    1. I would have loved to take shop and repair in high school along with Home Ec, but this was 1970.

  8. Sorry Ken butt trade schools are alive and well. They made a huge comeback during the 2008 Great Recession. Many of them are currently changing their format where there are more online classes which I see is a bad direction.

    Online classes do not take into account laboratory time for classes like chemistry or physics. Online classes do not take into account work on clinical sites like healthcare related jobs. I am a fan of trade schools and apprenticeship programs simply because it is learning by doing. Most of the tests are hands on, pass or fail.

    The downside is if a person tries to go into a trade and does not get what is being taught. Trade schools can be unforgiving and tough for some people and some trades have a very high rate of failure. This can be unacceptable to a middle class parents that want to see their child succeed in all aspects of life. ( so the parents sue and try to get their children into the world of academia where life is more forgiving. The Varsity Blues investigation has revealed what great lengths rich parents will go to for their children.)

    The trade off is: the person that passes muster of a trade school enters into a world where people are hired by reputation, word of mouth and mentors are consulted by private companies. The newly minted welder or technician is given a chance to go to work and do the job. Not everybody will make it out there and some will fall by the wayside, out of the workforce months or years later due to health problems, substance abuse or family issues.

    Now that I am training young people to do my job, I think more carefully about what I teach them and try to do a better job. Not all of the instructors set good examples about living life but they all had something to teach to us. ( think of the best welder in the shop that drank too much and disappeared one day, The best mechanic in the shop that had a substance abuse problem with meth, The logger that could fell hazard trees with precision whose back went bad and became hooked on opiate based pain meds.)

    A trade program is only as good as the mentors and instructors that make up the faculty. As pointed out above, schools will rise and fall over the years as instructors come and go. I fear the tendency for instruction to go completely online and fear the day that the technician working on the brakes of your car or truck graduated from an online school of Automotive Technology using only online coursework and not have any time or experience within an automotive repair shop.

    I am more impressed by your work experience as opposed to where you went to school.

    1. Cali,
      I agree 100percent with the online learning. My son is a superintendent for a large construction company. ( One of the many)He also teaches carpentry at a local tech school.
      He worked his way up from grunt at 12 for my brother’s firm and knows an amazing amount of things. So very proud of him.
      Since the Covid stay at home rules, he has had to teach online. That wouldn’t be so bad but the testing now is written by someone who is just looking at the book, not someone who is in carpentry.
      He isn’t allowed to see the test in Advance to teach what will be on the test!! He is so frustrated!
      Usually he has 1 person fail a test about once a month. In the last month all but 2-3 have failed the weekly tests.
      Something’s are great online, but like in medicine, how do ya learn to insert or remove a catheter online? Start an IV?
      See one , do one, teach one is how I learn.

  9. I was amazed when the captain of our boat could not nail a board onto the dog house we were building as a team building group. He couldn’t hit the nail with a hammer and kept missing every other swing. He must have off set that skill for golf.

  10. Well, just came in from the shop where I had replaced the spindles/mandrels on one of the riding lawn mowers this morning. About to go to the reloading table and knock out a few .38 special cartridges. What’s the thread about today? :-)

    1. My grandpa gave me some advice years ago when I was in my late teens/early twenties.

      A person should have 2 trades. Because if you lose your job at one (due to cutbacks, etc…), you have something to fall back on.

  11. One of the joys of homeschooling your kids is being able to engage in practical learning. We do book learning and written work, as those types of skills are needed too, but the most useful learning we do is in real time. Both of my younger men are home schooled, and help out on the farm. By choice and by necessity, we’ve learned all kinds of things, at least well enough to get us by – light carpentry (both made their own toolboxes and other small projects), animal husbandry, fencing, machine maintenance, sewing, cooking, gardening, budgeting and lots more.

    Practical skills teach both the mind and the body.

  12. I have made a living for most of my life in auto body and paint. I have a bad back now that prevents me from working in the shop full time so now I work in the parts dept. In a SHTF situation it is not likely people will need their car painted. I have learned many things along the way that will be useful like welding and fabricating from fixing rusty trucks and making some of my own tools, maintenance and repairs on autos and machinery, carpentry from minor home repairs, first aid in the Army, gardening, canning, hunting, fishing and butchering meat. I am no expert at any of these things but I know enough to get by. A skill I have that most of the younger generation does not have is making change and balancing a check book without a computer.

  13. Being able to pay someone else to do something for you is a luxury. When we reach the point where there are too many rich to be supported grotesquely by the poor it will collapse. In order for someone to be rich there has to be someone poor.

    All of those things will come back when there is no other option. Humans are resourceful and adaptable.

  14. Washing machine Repair story. My 21 year old Kenmore made by Whirlpool washer quit agitating. The spindle was loose. So we do not know a lot about washers and called Sears Repair. Nice man shows up pops off the fabric softener dispenser, pops off the cover on the agitator, pulls out a piece and says the dog ears are worn down. Gets a set of $2.85 dog ears, replaces, puts the section back in the agitator, replaces the cover and the softener dispenser and we pay $285.00 for the call. I could have replaced the dog ears had I known. VERY easy, very easy! The dog ears are like a gear cog sort of. Some the agitator can turn.
    So any of you folks that have a Whirlpool/Kenmore washer and the agitator is loose. Think $2.85 set of dog ears, called so because that is what they look like. Plastic dog ears.

  15. Ken,
    I grew up in an era where guys all took shop classes. Girls took Home Ec, sewing, etc. That changed later, and where girls got to take shop, guys learned to cook and sew. ( I was blessed with a Mom who taught her sons to sew and cook at a very young age. She wanted us to marry for love, not to gain another Mother to do things for us). Now you have to go to trade school to learn trades, still good but not as good as getting it in Jr and high schools.
    The little mining school I went to in Golden Colorado encouraged us to work in the mines during the summer to get practical experience, hands on work so we understood what miners were up against. I can still mine with the best of them.
    I think it is important for us folks with wide skill sets (whatever they may be, welding, farming, sewing , etc) to pass this knowledge on to the younger generation, family, friends, anyone who wants to learn really. You are giving them the gift of self-sufficiency. This is the best gift you can give anyone .

    1. Yes, I went to a little school in Butte, MT. The school really pushed us as well to get summer jobs in the industry of our major. Those summer jobs really helped in the classroom because you could see actual application of things learned in the classroom. Plus, I had many classmates who worked in the mining and oil industries before going there to school. Many times they could more clearly explain a concept than the books ever could because that is what they did or were exposed to on their jobs. I remember one particular argument with a professor and a former miner mining engineering student. The professor was teaching based on the book and the student was going off what he had to do when working underground. The whole argument started out with a certain safety factor based on a bolt pattern and number of bolts. Back and forth for a large part of the class until the professor kind of gave in because the reality was, they were both right. The difference was in the policy from one place to another.
      The point of all this is, is that by getting ones hands a little dirty practical skills complement things learned in books and vice versa.

    2. Agreed, Minerjim. My father taught me how to change the oil and a tire before I was ever allowed a set of car keys. He also had me rebuild a carburator when I was 16 (well, kinda, I could not get it back together, so I learned to label parts!!). He was an engineer but he loved to work with his hands. If we had kids, I would definitely be teaching them how to cook and clean a toilet, and the DH would have taught them hand’s on shop stuff.

      Maybe our youth cannot do much because the parents have done it all for them – or bought it all for them. I remember a conversation with a set of parents who bought their kids everything and justified it by wanting their kids to have more than they did when they were young. I believe that all of us want a better life for kids….but by giving them everything except a work ethic and skills, we have done these last couple of generations quite a disservice.

      1. Pegasus
        OH, how very true on the work ethic!
        Oldest siblings children, who have young adults for children. Well, I doubt very much they know where the oil goes in for an oil change on the vehicle. They were raised city, and if you required something done you HIRED someone to do it for you. Same for sibling number two’s children’s children–city raised.

        Then the baby of the family, thought hers would go the same way-no! We were raised country, you tried to fix it yourself within reason. Then find some one to do it for you, but you at least you tried first. Where by you were learning when you tear it apart, and putting it back together again.
        She has turned to a fairly decent carpenter. They redesigned the inside of our parents home(mobile home). It still looks like the same outside but the inside, WOW. It is beautiful, they have done a wonderful job. Am very proud of their accomplishments, they are self taught.

        1. AC,
          Best complement I ever got was from an older woman I had done some work for when I was in my 20s. She told me I had a “Depression Era work ethic”. I have passed that on to my kids and hopefully the grandkids too. That, and a desire to learn. Priceless.

      2. Pegasus,
        Excellent point!
        It’s all about the fathers. Way too many kids, don’t even know their fathers. I was very fortunate and tried to pass it on to my kids. I enjoy watching my son working with his young son. Ya gotta make the kid DO IT. If ya do it for him/her, they won’t learn a thing.

        Carpentry, masonry, electrical, plumbing, etc. etc. etc. Most of the time, if ya just get started, you’ll find it isn’t that difficult. Fear of the unknown and the potential for failure, stops waaaay too many people. ham radio anyone?

    3. Minerjim, I’ve heard of that “little mining school.” Nothing little about its reputation!

      1. Wendy,
        So I have been told. LOL. It was a “little school” back when I went there. Not so little anymore.

  16. On the whole Home Ec. virus “Shop” thing…

    I could never figure out why all the Guys were taking “Shop”.
    Who the heck wanted to spend their Junior and Senior years in High School with a bunch of idiot dudes who could not change a Light Bulb with an instruction manual PLUS they stunk like they just got out of PE?

    I took 4 semesters of HE.
    Come on guys, that’s where all the Girls were, sheeeeesh

    1. “Come on guys, that’s where all the Girls were, sheeeeesh”


    2. NRP,

      ” I took 4 semesters of HE”…….

      and i’ll bet you still have your apron to prove it! LOL!

      Glad to see you posting again.

      1. minerjim:
        You bet yar azz I do.
        Has a few Felt Marker marks on it too… LOLOL

        Been busy, brother came to visit a cpl of times.
        Bought some land nearby to move to, leaving Communist CA asap…. y’all should hear the real stories of what’s going on.

        1. NRP,
          Good to hear from you – moving to open thread with a follow-up.

        2. NRP &Blue, WELL, DON’T LEAVE US HANGING! Spill it, what is going on in Kommie land? What do we have to look forward to?

  17. Today, it’s more hip to get a job with an IT start-up than to fix cars, operate heavy equipment or learn a construction trade. How many city kids have no clue how to use a clothes iron, a hammer or a screwdriver (as they are intended to be used – not as tools of crime or as weapons)?

    Combined with multiple generations never being exposed to a world war or Great Depression, we now have a lot of people who think they are too good (or are too hopelessly inept) to grow food, build or fix things or even cook and clean for themselves.

    it’s ridiculous how many people can’t or won’t do even the simplest things for themselves.

    Fix a car – in some cities people don’t even have drivers licenses – they rely on public transport and uber.

    Operate a sewing machine – many can’t figure out a needle and thread.

    Plant, tend and harvest a garden – some can’t work more than a microwave or stove burner let alone grow and prepare raw ingredients for a meal. And some who do know how are too spoiled or lazy to actually do the work themselves.

    As many of you have already written, in a true SHTF situation, these folks don’t stand a chance. They would be a drag on a community – liabilities, not assets.

    1. I can see why some people have virtually zero ability to fix or repair something. I lived in an apartment for a few years and it felt weird to me. I didn’t have to mow any grass or pull any weeds. If something in the apartment broke, I was required to call the front office and let the maintenance person fix it. This all is completely the opposite of how I was raised. And with some people growing up in apartments then it’s no wonder they have zero ability to fix or repair something.
      And today, with people hiring out almost all the work to be done around the house. I believe a big part of that is because of today’s society. Today, mostly both parents work so they can keep up with the Jonses by having new cars, toys, vacations, a nice MCMansion, and working crazy hours to try to afford all that. There is no free time to fix or repair things because they are too busy going from one thing to the next. Even if there was free time to try to learn to fix something, they are too busy with their face buried in their phone chatting (texting, not actually talking) or looking for the latest trend or fad. I am not even going to start on the video games ad kids.

      1. “And today, with people hiring out almost all the work to be done around the house.” Which is highly ironic, because the time spent waiting for the repairman and sitting around while he works is usually more time than it would take to research the repair and do it yourself!

        1. Yes, the repair person calls and says they will be there between 9 am and 4 pm. Naturally they show up at 5:30.
          Like I said above, when they are not busy running around, their face is buried in their phones trying to get the latest scoop or texting others.
          Agree on the time “wasted” when they could be researching. Even if they still don’t know how to fix it, they will have a better idea of the work involved. But then again, isn’t it more important to see what the Kardashians are doing?

    2. So Cal Gal, had a coworker tell me about his son, he went to trade school and learned to be an automotive technician. Went to work for M Benz dealership, his dad got pissed bc his son was making almost as much as his dad (aircraft mech. w/20 yrs. exp.) and the son was only 22 yrs. old.

  18. I have been fixing broke stuff most of my life.
    I am old!
    A lot of men, and women, cannot– replace a door handle, repair a toilet, change the car oil, change a flat tire, and many more things.
    Life is good for a handy man!
    Trades used to be regular school subjects– not anymore, sadly.
    Ever since the school system told students that if they did not go to college, they would never amount to a damn thing.
    Guess what— they go to college and they do not amount to a damn thing!!

    1. During Jr and High school I took class’s in Drafting, sheetmetal, wood working, 2 years of auto mechanic 11-12th grade.

      I was overhauling car motors, transmissions and differentials at 17 for spare money. I quickly decided I didn’t want busted knuckles or grease embedded in my skin skin so I joined the Navy went to advanced electronics school for 2years, did my time. Took a number of college classes and ultimately retired from industry at age 50 managing scientists and engineers developing multimillion dollar electronic systems.

      All the tradesman training has served me well my entire life. Many of those scientists and engineers were incredibly “ignorant ” when you pressed them for something outside of their field of study.

  19. I used to work in a social worker’s office. Understand, some of these people had multiple PhD’s in varied fields. One guy had four, but he didn’t know how to turn on his own computer. The secretary did that for him each and every morning. He didn’t even know his own password. Another couldn’t figure out how to work the paper punch. I think the guy who couldn’t figure out the stapler was joking, but it’s hard to tell.

    1. Social Worker w/ 4*PhD can’t turn on the computer?

      PhD = “Push Here Dummy”

      A professional student; educated beyond his intellectual capacity.

      1. What can I say? He had a wife, so maybe she wrote all his dissertations for him. Or maybe he hired it done. :)

    2. Lauren –

      It’s shocking how many of them craft and mold foreign policy, yet as their password use “password”. Not even capitalizing the P, nor adding 1 or ! after it. Gotta shake your head at their pay scale versus your own sometimes.

      1. My BIL is a computer guy. He said the most common passwords are 12345, password, and 54321.

      2. M’Lynn

        Having worked in that field I can tell you the cyber security requirements were very inconvenient, as is all enhanced security. Forced password changes every so often, up to several times a year, long complex passwords, annual training, random number generators, and on and on.

        For those permitted to carry out foreign policy using an unsecured server in a bathroom (absolutely the wrong environment for computer components!) however, passwords and info security may have been a little less complex.

  20. M’Lynn

    Great post! What all of the cultural changes over the years seem to have in common is a move to encourage dependence and discourage independence. Those farmers with all those skills are really struggling these days, partly the result of ag policies that reward dependence instead of allowing independence.

    1. Yes, and don’t forget the destruction of the nuclear family. It’s something becoming more rare by the day.

  21. This is a problem I have observed for years now. So few people seem to know almost nothing about maintaining every day things that they depend on in life. Like changing a fat tire on their car. It really makes me wonder how these people will survive when they can’t afford to just lay down the plastic to get some work of any kind done. But at that point I hope they have something to barter that I need or they will be hooped for sure. But most likely they will just want me to take care of them to maintain their life of ease. Good luck on that!

  22. BS = we all know : Bull Sh#t.

    MS = More of Same

    PhD = Piled Higher and Deeper

    I was not required to take Home econ courses in high school but I did work in cafeterias and a few restaurants prior to applying for work on a fire crew. Getting a job on a fire crew in Cali meant there were 2000 applicants for every single job opening. Getting along with others and the ability to cook for groups of people will move you up for consideration very fast.

    It was mentioned by somebody already to have more than 1 trade. Cooking got me hired on a fire crew and allowed me to get out of scrubbing firehose 2 hrs every afternoon in order to clean up and get dinner going.

    Growing up working around farms, there are those people that cannot be trusted to drive a truck, operate a tractor or a forklift. Sadly enough those folks are given a shovel. It was about all they could be trusted with. Remind your kids that they do not want to be the person handed a shovel or a broom. As Kulafarmer mentioned about becoming a chef: We all had to start out as dishwashers. Some of us move up the chain faster and farther than others. Encourage kids learn a trade and keep learning.

    1. I’ve driven small trucks before and now, tractors at the golf resort to refuel the pump hse generators in the mud, forklift.. Usually in reverse when load is on…
      So, what’s that bs ms or wateva is about?

      1. Trucks, wateva needs moving. Tractors with tail with two full drums of diesel close to an airport and forklift to move around in a Finnish copper factory…

  23. Been doing my own repairs when possible for many decades.. will say that modern tech. helps us with that now…plenty of online sites like u-tube where you can learn how fix whatever is broken. Great way to learn new skills
    also been a few times where I’m tearing something apart that I’ve never work on before so I’ll take photos at different stages of the teardown with my smart phone so I can get it back together correctly…especially if i’m having a couple of adult beverages during the process

  24. My husband became a machinist in the early years of our marriage. Besides the obvious skills, he also developed a can do attitude. He’s never hesitated to try to figure out how to fix something himself. He’s kept our dishwashers and dryers going long past the point most would’ve given up. He’s built a horse shelter, a chicken coop, laid our flooring, re-roofed our house, added a deck, etc. You get the idea. Ten years as a machinist and then he pursued nursing and has been an RN for over 20 years. He’s amazing! Me? Not a mechanical bone in my body. My family laughs at me. Left-handed, I still have to say lefty-loosey, righty-tighty when I want to turn on the hose. But, I do know how to grow a garden, cook from scratch, do some canning and food dehydration, mend and sew a little, stretch a dollar, budget, and save. I’m a planner, can see the big picture, know how to research, and I’m a writer. We’ve complemented each other in our skill sets and are stronger together. Our young adult children are finally seeing the value of how we’ve lived and the way we make decisions. Hopefully, we’ll have the opportunity to impart more of these things to them. They have to be teachable though, and sometimes that only comes through the school of hard knocks.

  25. This is so true. But sadly I have found that it seems that many of those who don’t really have any skills beyond what they were trained for often make more money! Found that the blasted managers in a company I worked for made easily double what those of us who did the actual work made; none of them could have done what we did nor did they have our certifications yet they were “managers” so they worked inside an office, wore nice clothes and made way more money. But yes, if TSHTF, it will be those of us who have the actual skills and know how to do real work that should hopefully be ok. I wonder though. It seems as if it’s the rich folks who only know how to do stock trades or manage hedge funds or whatever that are buying up the good land in Idaho and Montana and accumulating the toys that are beyond me. So maybe they won’t be able to trade stocks after the market has totally crashed but they will still have good land, guns and ammo, gold etc to fall back on.

  26. Wow!
    Just… Wow!!

    About few weeks ago, a ‘senior’ plumber came (to my lair) and told me that he had a problem with one of his tool (how many do they need?)
    I smell something else..
    Grab it, work it out, and tell him it’s working fine and get back to my pay grade job, continue doing what I was doing and told him where the penetrant oil is if he wanted to oil it (I worked in irrigation dept for a golf course of 18 holes which was supposed to be 64 holes, on the mid start up while trucks are still delivering sand and all until people started teeing etc.. ) Do we know how much water a golf course need? I personally, didn’t have any idea back then. But I’ve been there 2 decades ago maybe.. Nope. 2 and a half. Too much water and sun.

    Been feeding/cooking fir a small school of almost 300 ppls in my state and a factory of ‘special people’ in middle kingdom for few years and driving for a bunch of them students at the same time, to and fro school (but not for the special people)

    How about working for a boss from a country that has so much thing to ‘fine’? Fine for his, fine for that.. No chewing gums or fine. I’m doing fine actually. Haha.. Even the boss will let me use his turboed’ family car (but not his yellow bug VW) when they’re out of the country and they do know I have a car at home.

    Treadle machine is easy as I started early. And when you get to ‘brother sewing machine, things got faster in the middle kingdom.
    Didn’t make much training and changing these peeps but do know where some of them are and what they’re doin now. Instead of out in the street where they were when we met them, the 1st time. Now, either still working in the factory that ”we started or out working on their own. Good? He is gooD.

    Supervised a very small hotel of 28 rooms in a large island of 3 (some said, its 4) countries until they found the right local candidates, that’s only after the manager (whom I happened to know while working in the middle kingdom) approved them through my open training method. ‘U are free as long as u do what ur supposed to, at work’ . Out of work of the 3 shifts, I get my hands dirty with my mitsubishi wagon that I bought so cheaply there and does some mods to it (sold her when I moved back to my hometown .. Sigh, missed that 4 headlights and no seatbelts on the rear seat) and ppl will call me when there’s a flight cancelled, especially at midnight. .. As the front desk can’t really managed the rush of room allotment. Me, I’ll start with a smile even if I have my shorts and t-shirt on. They know who’s in charge right away with the language that they can understand. Back office and front desk. Am I bullet proof?

    Worked with an ‘Italian stallion’ boss who I think got gasoline in his vein with his moTec (under ctrl) from ferrari mods’, crate engine of B18C type r to another shell of civic for the track and even the Honda superbike for a wealthy Tai wanese customer…
    Life was good and I heard that he ended up having his own CnC machine. Yup. That’s him.

    Changing tyres for another race team of the locals. As the drivers were ‘drifting, we wait. When they come back, we have just a few mins to get them tires changed without the g UN. That’s the promotion of a rwd Toyota reiz all around the middle kingdom capitals… Among others.

    Then, a Japanese company. A big one on auto repair et Al. Autosometing. That’s when my diagnosis and troubleshooting were being tested to the brim… diagnostics among others. We check, we buy the parts, and we fix it. We are always in orange anywhere around the world. And sometimes, I cut the Bush there. Haha.
    Whoopsie.. Did I say too much?
    There’s a lot more actually..
    But for now, they knew that I’m the crazy guy in the shop who got the job done.
    With a ‘spade and all under his sleeves.

    If u have tried to repair it and failed, my price will go up.
    That’s what some othr ppls said.
    Me, I’ll look into your eyes.

  27. I used to be a trouble shooter for a mfg. co. We had a subcontractor that was having problems with a vacuum braze operation. I flew out to the factory and asked to be shown their vacuum braze chamber. It was packed FULL of the product! I asked wasn’t that a really hard vacuum? They said yes. I told them to take about 60% of the parts out because since it was a vacuum there could be no convection or conduction just radiant energy and they had so many in the chamber that a lot were in shadow. I did not know that my high school physics teacher was so much better than theirs!

  28. And another strange thing that has coming back again, some people keep coming back at my ‘lair (workshop where I work alone) and showing their true color… Laughing, opening up of their personal stuff, relaxing and just watch me do my job and I can tell that they have something to say usually. As usual, I’ll smile at them, which they seldomly see. Then, they’ll start to talk.

  29. Here’s something sadly funny,
    Someone has posted a video on “how to fill an ice-tray”.
    I’m happy to tell everyone, I’ve been doing it right for 60+ years. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way, and spilled some water once or twice…
    luv ya’ll, Beach’n

    1. Beach’n:
      Please post a link to the Video.
      I’m needing to know to stack the ice exactly right to fill the tray properly… HAHAHA

      1. NRP & Blue,
        I’ve missed you soooo much!
        You don’t need so much ice if you put the silver mug in the freezer for awhile first!
        Luv ya’ll, Beach’n
        Kiss blue for me!

        1. Beach’n:
          Not only di I keep 2 Sliver Cups in the freezer, the 15 year old Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon also has a home in the freezer. If not the warm Bourbon melts the ice and dilutes the Bourbon…..
          Blue said NO Kisses from me… HAHAHA

        2. BTW to clarify we ARE still on topic…
          Yes… having Bartenders skill are a must 🤪🤪🤪

        3. NRP,
          I would definitely kiss ol’ Blue on the nose! Would be so much fun to meet you two!
          luv ya’ll, Beach’n

        4. NRP & Blue & Ken,
          I have a certificate from the Bartender’s College in Raleigh, NC. :)
          I’m a nurse and an x-ray tech. I can garden, can, dehydrate, freeze. I’ve also built a few above ground gardens and a fence. Know how to camp, mmmm Lots of skills..

          When I was in High School, I wanted to take wood working. The “instructor” told me, “I’d be worried you would chop off that pretty little ring finger”. No chit!

      2. NRP,
        I’m sure posting the link will end up in mediation. :D
        luv ya’ll, Beach’n

  30. My Dad and Grandfather were building contractors. I spent my summers learning to shingle, install insulation, hang and finish sheetrock, etc. and worked in their shop running lathes, saws, planers, and the like. After college, I got a job in a large window factory; eventually managing a department of 35-50 men running sophisticated woodworking machines that I had run myself as an hourly employee. I worked there 25 years. I got the job because of my early training and mechanical skills. I think my dad and grandpa would be proud of their GIRL following in their footsteps. They didn’t think skills should be exclusively male or female, and since they only had daughters, taught us what they knew. It’s good to be able to think on your feet and have a variety of skills. I’ve never been out of work.

  31. Another good one Ken,
    One of my buddies from work ask me if I could come over and help him replace something. I said sure and I showed up at his house with an assortment of tools because I really didn’t know what he was needing help with. Turns out the only thing I did was replace a door knob for him. I was so surprised he didn’t even know how to do that. I remember when I was 13 helping my father fix the hot water heater. He told me to touch those wires and see if their hot. I learned real quick the difference between hot and HOT.

  32. We get them in academy to start training them to be functional. We have to teach them how to check fluids in their units, how to change a tire on the side of the road, how to jump start a vehicle. They don’t know and their parents never taught them. A lot of people hate on these kids, but it has been my experience that most are good kids. They just have had sorry parents that didn’t take the time to help them learn. Once we explain what the expectations are for them, most excel in their lives and careers. I had to teach one kid how to do laundry. I’m not kidding. I taught him how to wash, fold, and press his uniform. Sounds stupid right. But the kid had never been shown how. Really good kid and super intelligent. Not his fault: it is the fault of those that brought him up.

  33. “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
    ― Robert A. Heinlein

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