Free Association On The Topic Of My Help

I am a carpenter.  Love what I do. Been doing it full-time for 40 years.

For the past 20 years I have intentionally hired young men (and in two cases women) with whom I could teach for a year or three with the understanding they would probably find another job and move on. I’ve enjoyed the process immensely…until the past couple of months. Today I said to my wife, I am finished.


Nada mas.

When I finish the two large projects I am currently on, I am not sure what happens next but for sure I am letting go  both of the guys I am currently dealing with.

Freud and Fashion had a blog post yesterday where she used the technique of “free association” on a topic…here is what she said about it:

Free association is a psychotherapy technique where a patient talks or writes freely about whatever comes to mind in relation to a specific topic, with the goal of bringing unconscious thoughts to the forefront or the emergence of repressed memories, which can provide valuable insight of a patient’s problems.

So, with this exercise in mind, here goes my attempt at free associating by typing nonstop for 5 minutes on the topic of:  “My help”


I am done .  I am done coddling adults with whom I have had an agreement to work with. Whether they are employee’s or other sub contractors.

Proverbs talks about hiring a drunk, and ending up with one heart ache after another. That has been my experience since the beginning of April, in fact, most of last year with one guy in particular, and 3 others this spring/ summer.

While none of them have been drinkers (as far as I know) they have all proved undependable.  Showing up late, not showing up at all,  and a host of other issues besides.

I used to love to mentor and pour myself into someone who was teachable and willing to learn…but as of this week, the fire is out.

Coddle. That is the word that comes to mind.

I am weary of coddling

Weary of taking the heat.  One incident last week finally tipped the scales with my latest hire.  The homeowner with whom I am working for on an hourly basis, caught my guy, sitting on the ground texting, while I was on the other side of the project.



Hummm..I’ll need to reread this one in the morning and see what insights I may have uncovered (feel free to chime in, if you have any thoughts after reading that rough draft of a bleep 🙂 DM


19 thoughts on “Free Association On The Topic Of My Help

  1. I hope when you reread it, it only affirms what you know, right now, that you need to do. I am working on “letting go” in so many ways.
    Your mentoring is a gift, and I hope there are healthier opportunities in the future1

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Back when I lived in Florida I had a contractor friend. He complained about how difficult it was to get good help these days. When he was younger, he said, workers too pride in their trade. These days, in his experience, many were just looking for a paycheck. Often he said after getting paid on Friday they wouldn’t return to work until they’d blown all the money on beer or drugs. While I’m sure there are still a great many workers who are conscientious and dependable, your experience supports his belief that that is far less common these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is true and I know it is not just me. it is nation wide. I had a great guy for the better part of 2 or three years…then he got a job with the local water department with full benefits. I could not begin to match


    • One of the guys is moving in the direction of his own construction business( with my encouragement and enablement ) and the other guy is not sure what he wants to do, but has plans for college after the first of the year. The honeymoon phase working with me is over…the first month of probation he was the best new guy I’d ever had… I feel like I was played, because now there has been a host of valid excuses for coming in late, (mom’s car broke down/ she’s a single mother so he needed to go with his brother hand help get her car down/ his girl friend was in an accident so he and girls mother had to run a replacement car to her, and on and on and on and on… has been padding his hours, started grumbling about certain kinds of work we do, etc. etc. I am just plain tired of coddling..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the detailed explanation. I always feel like you never know what is going on people’s lives and in their minds. I feel like too often I had been on that ‘flip’ side, the one with excuses, because yes, I was not liking (too light of the word) what I was doing and was only doing it for the paycheck, with my heart being some place else. And I suppose, in those cases, the greatest service you can do for the person is to fire them, so they can go and find where their heart truly is.
        Good luck, and I am sorry you have to go through the stress. A learning experience for everyone involved.


  3. I was working with a fella who was 30+ years my senior, in his business he started, for free for the better part of a year. Just whenever I had time, or whenever he called me with his hair on fire. Probably about ten hours per week. I would help with the dirty jobs and the interesting jobs and the sweaty jobs, all the same. I just wanted to learn. Then one day he and his wife sat down with me and told me although they loved my help, they couldn’t hire me. Which, that wasn’t my expectation. That really changed the relationship.
    Then a few months later, my wife and I moved, and I really haven’t kept up with him. Unfortunate, really. I loved the learning.
    I’d love to mentor under an expert on a few different subjects.

    Liked by 1 person

        • that would have been an interesting gig!~ One of our local community colleges has started offering several classes on this topic (vineyard management, wine making, etc.


          • It was quite interesting. The free classes sound like a cool opportunity. Wine is quite easy to achieve passable results. With only a little education in the subject, you can make your own!


  4. Sigh. I’ve taught all sorts how to fix electronic equipment.
    From computers, to radios, to alarm systems, to boat systems.
    From degree qualified, to a garage mechanic, to a school leaver, and a mum.
    17 to 45 years, both sexes (although one was a bit confused).
    Take a wild guess who walked out into a new job after years of doing that?
    Into a job that had nothing whatsoever to do with teaching or electronics.
    Why? Because people suck, take everything, abuse trust, and then stab you in the back.


  5. Hi DM – i feel honored that u were inspired to incorporate a free association exercise into one of your blogposts! I gather that you’re not just tired with taking employees under your wing, but also anger at the stark contrast these workers exhibit compared to the passion and tireless work ethic that you apply to your jobs (your very last sentence tells it all — the image of you working on the other side as they took advantage and utilized the time to text assuming their lackadaisical activity would go unnoticed).

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My husband who is the best finish carpenter works by himself because as he says “Everyone wants to be driving the back hoe…no one wants to dig the ditch”….


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