Now that spring break is
over and all the kids are back in school, I have come to an inescapable
conclusion – my family needs to produce more children.
It dawned on me one afternoon, right
before Easter. I looked around one of my retail stores, and there were my
daughters, Kelly, 11 and Taryn, 9, busily pricing merchandise and placing
it on shelves.
Behind one of the registers,
competently ringing up sales, was my niece, Laura, 12. Cleaning one of the
display units was another niece, Elena, 10.
All of them were actually contributing.
And most importantly, I thought greedily, all of them were grossly
I was seeing the light. If I could buy
a farm out in the middle of nowhere and simply grow children, in a few
short years I’d be able to cut my payroll by about 80 percent.
It wasn’t always this way. Not so
long ago I considered my daughters and nieces more as business liabilities
rather than assets. My wife and my sister, not wanting to pay for daycare
during school breaks, would drop the kids off at my office for a few
They’d work for about three minutes
or so, and then they’d get in everyone’s way. The only saving grace
was that (although I had promised to pay them $1 per hour) they would
invariably forget to ask me for their money when it was time to go home.
As the girls got older, though, their
attention span increased. Unfortunately, so did their sense of greed. Not
only did they work longer, but they were beginning to remember to demand
I managed to save considerably for a
while longer by bartering with them. Instead of giving them cash, I
offered the equivalent amount in merchandise. Of course, the little fools
never realized I was exchanging their wages for the retail value of
the item they wanted from the store.
Regrettably, they continued to mature.
Realizing that I was making money on the exchange, they began to demand I
sell to them at the wholesale cost. I growled a little, but ultimately
agreed. Still paying $1 an hour, I figured I wasn’t getting hurt too
Then came this year. Not only did they
suddenly begin to contribute, but they could now work for hours on end.
While that was all fine and dandy, I began to hear rumblings about raises.
It seemed they had discovered
that another cousin, Jason, whom I had nurtured and groomed over the years
as a warehouse assistant (at $1 per hour, naturally) had gone and found a
part-time job in a pet store that was paying him the ungodly minimum wage
amount of $4.35 per hour.
I was stunned. I had taught that
13-year-old everything he knew about an honest day’s work ad he had gone
and dumped me for a measly 350 percent raise.
"Jason’s getting $4.35 per
hour," wailed the girls. "We want a raise and we want to be paid
in cash, not merchandise."
"All right, all right,"
I said gently, fearing rebellion. "$1.25 per hour and you guys are
worth every penny."
Ungrateful little toads. A 25
percent raise would cause whoops of joy if offered to some of my other
employees. These kids seemed more apt to bind and gag me.
After some intense negotiations,
we settled on $2 per hour, a whopping 100 percent raise. Reluctantly, I
threw in free room and board for my daughters. They had balked at my
attempt to pay them less than their cousins.
I followed them back onto the
sales floor and watched them go about their tasks with mixed emotions.
While I was delighted that I was still reaping a considerable savings by
grossly underpaying them, I also knew the end was in sight.
Now that they were becoming
competent, it wouldn’t be long before they’d realize there are federal
laws to protect them from opportunistic and miserly fathers and uncles
Soon I’ll be forced to put them
on the payroll, pay them minimum wage and deduct taxes, rather than pay
them an allowance out of my own pocket. What a shame. This window of
opportunity I’m finally enjoying is likely to last only through the
Come September, I’ll probably
begin working on my next crop, two sons and four other nieces and nephews,
all of them nearing the exploitation age of 6 or 7.
Meanwhile, I’m going to
thoroughly enjoy this summer. The girls won’t work often, but when they
do I’ll get more than my money’s worth out of them.
Yes, indeed. It’s payback time.