Sunday, March 04, 2012

Odd Job Week

Seriously, what happened to odd job week?

Since I know many of you - and that includes many of my friends here - have never even heard of it, odd job week simply means offering to do simple chores or odd jobs for a small donation for whichever charity or cause. Wash cars, mend fences, mow the lawn etc. Back in my school days, it was practically the norm whenever one of the extracurricular clubs, usually the scouts movement, was in need of an infusion of cash.

David Gandy
We soon learned that Odd Job week can be really hard work.

Many were the days me and my scouting compatriots trudged down neighbourhood lanes during lazy afternoons knocking on doors in search of the odd job.

Teacher : The choir needs some money.
Paul : Maybe you should try odd job week.
Teacher : What?
Paul : Go around doing chores and odd jobs for a donation. It's better than begging.
Teacher : Of course they don't do that! It's unheard of!
Paul : Unheard of? Mission schools do it all the time.
Teacher : The students won't want to do that!
Paul : It's just a car wash.
Teacher : A car wash?!

Never having heard of it, the austere teacher looked horrified when I mentioned the odd job week. From the look on his astonished face, I might as well have asked for a lascivious lapdance from one of his nubile high school students.

And I'm only talking about a car wash.

While the idea of having a hot prep school boy wash my car in his skimpy briefs is highly titillating, that's not exactly what I mean.

Isn't it good to have the students learn the value of a dollar? Rather than just give simple handouts, isn't it easier to teach them how to make money on their own? Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime. Isn't that one of the main tenets of education? At the same time, the students get to contribute to the community with the simple act of volunteering, albeit with a bit of donation in return.

Whatever the reason, the odd job week suddenly disappeared from our streets. Whether it was the growing fear of hard labour and honest sweat on the part of our pampered students. Or perhaps the mollycoddling parents. Or perhaps something more sinister like a spate of unexplained kidnappings? Innocent girl guides peddling chocolate chip cookies getting snatched off the dark back alleys.

Turns out the odd job week has been abolished in the United Kingdom since 1992 as health and safety rules, the rise of compensation culture and fear of paedophiles made the door-knocking tradition impossible to sustain. And yet even they have recently brought it back with an entirely new roster of odd job weeks starting from 2012.

Hope the odd job week manages to return here as well. Better that than be doomed to suffer from endless donation requests to support tiresome jogathons!


the island guy said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. The "teach them how to fish instead of give them a fish" idea is beautiful.

Tempus said...

oh odd jobs are like so gone by the winds today. apparently things like kidnappers and pedophiles are on loose, adults can't bear to expose their children towards these.

but i do like odd jobs, car wash, definitely. until i have 6 packs la.

Kenny Mah said...

Agreed - let's skip those jogathon donations and get us some carwash guys instead! :P

savante said...

Well that's an old idea so I can't claim copyright on that, island guy :P

Perhaps the world has become a scarier place, tempus, but we should still encourage such volunteerism in kids.

Very true. Never did have time to appreciate the cute carwash boys back then, kenny!