How Soon We Forget
I think we have forgotten or, more succinctly, technology has limited our experience of performing hard work. I am not just talking about putting in long hours. I am talking about physical, tedious and yes, sometimes boring work. I am not saying I don’t value what technology provides us. I am simply saying there is a part of our work that is hard and routine, but essential to produce results. I am talking about the importance of hard work.
When the crew arrived this week to put new carpet in three bedrooms, I was reminded of how important hard work really is. The job required them to remove EVERYTHING from each room, take out the old carpet and install the new. This two man crew didn’t weigh 300 pounds between them. This Hispanic crew between the ages of 40 and 60 removed the furniture and old carpet and then brought in heavy rolls of the new carpet. Now that is hard work.
Did I mention I am in Phoenix, AZ and it is monsoon time? In the packing and moving of my personal items I was never outside (109 degrees) yet still wound up soaking wet! Imagine how they felt.
There was always work to do where I grew up. I was raised on an orange grove in Central California. Along with oranges, I also tried my hand at picking beans, tomatoes, and my favorite, cotton. All done badly. The invention of the cotton picker was absolutely necessary. It was soooo hard. The bolls cut your fingers and hands even with gloves on. A good picker’s goal for the day, working dawn to dusk was 100 pounds. Remember, a boll is as light as a feather. I know, now we have a machine to do the labor and you are too smart and educated to do that work anyway.
My point is, the younger generations do not really have the distinction of having a “job.” This is where you do something that is needed day in and day out because you have no training to do anything else. You work 40-50 hours for marginal pay and you are expected to be there day in and day out. The saving grace is that you know you are only going to do this for the summer or a short period of time and that someday we will have a “real” job. But, you have mastered important life fundamentals—being present and doing what is required.
Many of today’s college graduates or brilliant techies have never worked at anything 9 to 5. They have no respect for the person who does the hard stuff. I was in graduate school, with a wife and two children, laying asphalt on the tarmac at Sea-Tac airport. 117 degree weather and I worked 100 hours in 8 days for $1 an hour to have the money I needed to get my wife and first daughter out of the hospital. That’s hard work.