Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A subcontractor has no boss. But neither of us are "King of the Road"

"I'm a man of means by no means king of the road"

The lyrics tell of the day-to-day life of a vagabond hobo who despite being poor (a "man of means by no means") revels in his freedom, describing himself humorously as the "king of the road".

Early in my life my dad became self employed. As a ten year old I didn't get it - "you have no boss - the who pays you?". I never really got a satisfactory answer there. But I get it now.

A subcontractor has no boss, and dozens of bosses

You get offers to work and you can accept them or reject them. So who are the dozens of bosses? Those legions of bosses are not the administrators who prepare the contracts for you.

The subcontractor's real boss is the end user customer. Everyone else is just a facilitator.

So when my dad would install a gas heater in an existing home, he'd get a yellow slip from the (then) Gas Company. And there were a few production planners/inspectors that my dad would be forced to deal with - employees of the gas company. They'd allocate the jobs and confirm whether or not he'd done it properly. He generally held a light contempt for most of them and now that I know the animal I can understand why.

But it was the "mum and the dad in their house" who was Dad's boss. And to his credit his customer skills were good - a few hours per customer was worth the effort, I expect.

But you, administrator, are not my boss..

As a ten year old I'd heard the song "king of the road" and wondered "how do you become 'king of the road' when you're driving around town? It's not really a race. Everyone's going to different places and if you're stopped at the next set of traffic lights you're not really coming first, you're just the guy who didn't get through on the last run of lights.


And in a subcontracting game, just because you're the one who gets to say "can you do this job?" you are not in charge of me, just a part of the machine that spits out yellow job tickets. That said - in my case I have many people I would call good friends working inside the machines. It's funny how life throws us together.

It's a small power, but I do get to say "no" if I want to. But I rarely say no. And I quite often bite my tongue, instead of biting the hand that feeds. It all becomes a part of the business process.

I might live from one paycheck to the next but there's something nice about not completely being part of someone else's machine. I haven't yet had to collect shopping trolleys to keep the bills paid, but I will if I have to.

One of the good ones..

I like the perspective of one of those who gives me work - a chief instructor who just agreed to let me take a rating that will earn me a little more money when I go to his place. "We're all just scratching around, trying to make a buck"

The fact is - whether you think you're a boss or not, we're all in the same game. Scratching around trying to make a buck.

Trailers for sale or rent, rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but two hours of pushin' broom buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means, king of the road

Third boxcar, midnight train, destination, Bangor, Maine
Old worn out suit and shoes, I don't pay no union dues
I smoke old stogies I have found, short, but not too big around
I'm a man of means by no means, king of the road

I know every engineer on every train
All their children and all of their names
And every handout in every town
Every lock that ain't locked when no one's around

I sing, "Trailers for sale or rent, rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin' broom buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means, king of the road"

"Trailers for sale or rent, rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin' broom buys an eight by twelve four-bit room"

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/roger-miller/king-of-the-road-lyrics/#FbxM1d0sYBMS2itk.99

No comments:

Post a Comment