My Escape from Poverty – Part 7

Sheep Farming Bitterfontein

During my escape from poverty, I did all sorts of work. Nothing was beneath me. I worked on a farm while still in high school. Many days I accompanied my grandfather on his tasks and daily routine. It was hard and physical labour, and it made me strong and tough (taai). It also taught me to care for the environment and treat animals with respect. I never asked him if he wanted to be more in life, and I never got the sense I had to ask him that question because he was happy and enjoyed what he was doing.

At boarding school, I learned to clean after myself. Back in those days, we had the bucket system, and it was our task to empty and clean the slop buckets. Of course, the work was gross and degrading, but we had to do it because we used the toilets.

After moving away from the farm and to the town, I started working as a shop assistant. As a shop assistant, I had to do whatever anyone wanted me to do, from cleaning the shelves to packing the shelves. In addition, I had to load and unload trucks. The work was hard and physical, but it was rewarding. This is where I earned my first cheque. The lesson from this work was customer service. Respect those who spend their hard-earned money at your store, and make sure you care for everyone who enters the store.

At home, my grandmother taught me how to do the laundry, make up my bed, wash the dishes and clean around the house. In our household, we had a seasonal spring cleaning session. This also meant that every couple of months, we had to wash the bedding. It was always fun to do the bedding in the summer, but not so much in the autumn. You see, the bedding was put in the biggest basin (skottel). That basin was then filled with water, soap was added and then the blankets. As kids, it was our jobs to “trap die komberse”, which meant we had to get into the basin and stomped the blankets with our feet. In the autumn, the water was freezing, but we had to do it before the winter started.

Thus, I grew up working and have been working since then. I enjoy working. Working gives me purpose. It makes me feel like I am alive. Since I joined the university and started my own business, I have started working harder. Sometimes people will tell me I work too much and that I must rest. I usually find this amusing because I do rest. I sleep enough hours a day. So much so that I am a morning person. I believe a morning person is just someone who sleeps well and is fully rested the following day.

I believe that there are a few innate differences between humans and other animals. The one innate commonality we have with other animals, and other living creators is work. If you look at birds, ants and bees, you will notice that they are working for a good part of the year. They have to because that is what forms them and keeps them alive. Without work and enjoying that work that you are doing, life becomes pointless. So keep working.

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