Stuck training the new guy

If you’ve ever had to train a new employee, and the guy was taking a long time to catch on to tasks you could do without a moment’s thought, you might have found yourself thinking the same things as I did the other afternoon.

I was attempting to train a new worker how to use the leaf blower to herd dead leaves into one big pile. There is a profound difference between creating wind and using it to affect some purpose. His insensibility to this, and the resulting random rearrangement of leaves, led me to my first great trainer’s cliché. “It would be so much easier to just do this myself,” I thought.

But that would mean sending my trainee away discouraged. I worked with him on the rudiments of directional leaf blowing. It was a hard sell, which inspired my next trainer’s lament. “This guy has the intellectual capacity of a five-year-old,” I said to myself.

I spent 20 minutes walking sideways with him, shrinking the perimeter of ground covered by leaves. It was probably that I was uncomfortably hunched over the entire time, helping him aim the blower nozzle, that led me to my final nugget of trainer’s wisdom. “I’d be better off trying to teach a first-grader to do this,” I muttered.

This is when I discovered that statements made to relieve frustration (and back pain) lose much of their impact when reality robs them of their comforting hyperbole.

The new employee had the intellect of a five-year-old because he was exactly five years old. It wasn’t my idea to hire him for this work. He volunteered. In fact, he volunteered so vehemently that I’m sure he would have run into the house crying if I’d denied him his training.

Little boys are fascinated by power tools. Combine the necessity of plugging it in to an electrical outlet with the magic of creating wind, and the leaf blower is a kid magnet. Unfortunately, the power of the gods comes with a steep learning curve for a kindergartener.

To his credit, he stuck with the training, and the associated parental scowls, long enough to get the hang of it. When our herd of leaves was under control, I let him go solo.

He even earned a short break for the obligatory leap into the pile.

rewards of hard work

I just hope this doesn’t make him think that after his first day of training at McDonald’s they’ll let him jump into a pile of hamburgers.

But the days grow short this time of year, and there was a large pile of leaves to vacuum and bag. He wanted to take training on this process too, but the machine was a little tall and heavy for him to hold upright. It was clear that his workday was over when he began throwing armfuls of leaves at me and shouting, “Confetti!”

Leaf fort

Makes you wonder how many children get bagged up and carted away with the leaves every year.

In the end, he learned a little bit, and I learned a lot. I have to practice being more patient with my volunteer helpers. As to whether I would be better off trying to train a first grader, well, I guess we’ll find that out next year.

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23 comments on “Stuck training the new guy

  1. My boys run away from anything that makes even a moderate amount of noise, except for the motorcycle. They always enjoyed rides on the bike. I don’t think I have to worry about any volunteers offering to help me with leaves or grass anytime soon.

  2. mewhoami says:

    Ah, the joy of leaves! I remember those days. With us though, all we had to learn was how to use a rake. Your volunteer is already learning at the next level. Good for you for teaching him.

  3. A. van Nerel says:

    Okay, so maybe the new guy won’t be this month’s ‘Employee of the Month’ in your household…Still, if employees working at McDonald’s were as enthusiastic about their job as your son, I would order a Bic Mac each day just for the joy of it.
    Awesome post! You deserve a ‘World’s Best Boss’ mug!

  4. Great post, Scott! You’re such a good dad. 🙂

  5. Tom W says:

    Been there, done that! But they were older than five, physically at least.

  6. Aussa Lorens says:

    Haha I was all confused at first, like… What job that requires leaf-blowing hires someone who doesn’t already know how to do this? But now, I am jealous of your 5year old. Very jealous.

  7. Traci says:

    Kids have no idea that they have it made. No one ever volunteered to make piles of leaves at my house because it involved a rake that was self-explanatory in its function. Oh, to be a 5 year old in 2013 . . .

    • But the modern world comes with lots of baggage to go with its leaf blowers. A rake might be less fun, but it could also be seen as a symbol of saner world. See what happened, just because you wouldn’t go help rake leaves?

  8. ksujulie says:

    That is a HUGE pile of leaves!! I want to jump too!!

  9. pieterk515 says:

    Get rid of the trees. Problem solved. And with that I am sensing the tree huggers revolting.

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