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Smoker Dave's
Commencement Speech to the High School Class of '99

May 19, 1999

by "Smoker Dave" Kovach

I know that all of you graduating today expect an uplifting speech on how you are this Country's Future. You ARE! However you have also been misled in the past 7 years by the Clinton Administration.

If you listened to politics at all you think you are the most important people in this country. You know the mantra, "We must do it for the Children"

Well "children" you are no longer children! Welcome to the real world, where getting a job after High School means for the most part a very low wage. It doesn't matter to your employer how many clubs you were in, your sports achievements, or how popular you were!

A brand new slate is started, you either have a HS Diploma or not. For that you could expect to start out with maybe $8 an hour or so. If you go onto college thenwhen you graduate in 4 Years, if you last that long, on average you could expect to start at $11 or so an hour.

But unless you have a good work ethic and a willingness to go the extra mile when you are at the bottom of seniority, you will end up the bagger at a grocery store with a college degree.

Where I work I hire and fire, accomplishments in high school or college mean nothing to me!. Job performance does!

There are many people who consider High School as "their shinning moment". How sad; to be like AL BUNDY reliving his football triumph's as the highlight of his life. You graduate HS when you are 18, graduate college when you are 22. You have 50 or 60 yrs to go. Do you want your Lifetime Highlights to happen in the first 22 years?

You graduates of 1999, you are the future. But your future will not begin for 30 years, if you think that your generation being in power is your future. Here's an example: right now, the children of the late '50's have the power. These are the children that listened to Elvis and The Beatles. Think about this: the generation that saw the Beatles and Elvis for the firstt time have just recently come to "power". And look how they have changed since then. They were anti-government, anti-war, drug addicts, and free love advocates.

What has happened to them since?

Now they advocate BIGGER government and MORE Government Restrictions on freedom. They started a "WAR" in Kosovo resembling Vietnam that they protested against; the same war Clinton dodged the draft for.

Now for some job tips for the Class of '99. In your resumé, do not have misspellings and don't list your MOM as a reference. On job applications, do not scribble out mistakes. Make sure the resumé and job application are perfect. When I go through applications and resumés, if there is a misspelling, if the application is sloppy, I throw it in the TRASH. Where I work, even if I do not call someone for a job interview, if the application and resumé are OK, I forward the info to other departments where I work.

Another tip: don't look like a punk, a rebel, etc. You want a ground floor opportunity of a Professional Business or Trade, you must dress the part. Eyebrow piercing, tongue piercing, even tattoos will be grounds to not hire you in a good job, even on the ground floor of the business. Think about it... your "Old Fashioned Parents" are the ones with the money. Business wants their business. In School for the most part there are no dress codes. You can forget that so called "RIGHT" on your job. Oh you still have the "RIGHT", but the employer has the right on how the employees dress.

Now to the job you do get. Don't expect to get the 9 to 5 job if the place of business works 24 hrs a day, don't assume you will have weekends off. You have to use your work ethic, and it may take years, to move ahead to better hours, a better schedule, and a better pay. There is no such thing as a promotion every year like in school.

A rule of Thumb: every person "held back" from advancing a grade in school, equals the number of people promoted in whatever job you have, on a yearly basis. Don't expect to work 40 hours a week when you enter the job market, expect 50 or 60. And you better perform well! If you ever expect to work only 40 hrs a week and make a decent living. This could take 10 to 15 years!

Unless you apply yourself and do whatever it takes to succeed and move up, you will always be a "DRONE". Subject to layoffs or downsizing by the company you work for.

Like I said earlier, I hire and fire. You need to realize that you are not doing your employer a favor by working there. It is the employer doing you a favor by letting you work there. It is up to you to make yourself important enough to keep when the business has a downturn, so that you won't be without a job, going to the unemployment office looking like a deer caught in the headlights of the car that is going to hit him.

I am just trying to let you know what the real world is like. If you think school was unfair, you've seen nothing yet. Remember it is at least 30 years before your generation is in power.


In this era you could go back crying to mommy on how unfair life is. But think about it: we, the US, are in the midst of economic prosperity. If you
can't make it on your own now, with next to zero unemployment rate for anyone with a half a brain, then how are you going to make it when unemployment goes up?

The college graduates these days are demanding perks and rewards reserved for Productive Long Term Employees. Granted that some of these positions are in high demand right now. But guess who gets laid off first: the 15 year employee who went thru the ranks and earned the benefits, or the 5 year employee that demanded every privilege and perk to start out with, plus also has a lower production rate, and a higher absentee rate. Don't tell me I'm full of BS. I've seen it, and still see it today. The one thing I check on applications and resumes is if they ever worked for a Fast Food Chain like McDonald's for a long period of time. If they have then I KNOW they have a decent work ethic, and anyone with a work ethic and has the educational requirements to work for me will be an excellent worker with minimal training on the job. Conversely any college graduate that lists no prior job experience, but are educationally qualified, turn out to be the most problematic employees, in performance on the job, absentee rate, and the rate they revert to using the Federal Laws on discrimination and Affirmative Action, or they blame their failure to be a successful employee on the training provided by the company.

Even if their job is less complicated than doing a batch of french fries, they turn out better than those with no work ethic.

You better shape up, or doing batches of french fries will be your new job description. It is less harmful to the employer if you screw up a batch of fries at $5 a batch than to screw up a batch of tests in a lab at over $6,000 a batch!

Prosper or perish to your own abilities. I welcome the hard working responsible employees. I do not cry for the failures. In fact if you screw up bad enough where I work, whether you are new or not, you could be CRIMINALLY PROSECUTED UNDER FEDERAL LAW! An "I'm sorry" won't save you from imprisonment from your own misjudgements.

Once again, Class of '99, WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD!!!



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