Blue Collar Jobs Used to be Fun and Rewarding

It is really sad to see so many workers being shafted now — not old enough for social Security and Medicare, but too old to get jobs.

When I was in college, I used to work at new jobs each summer which ranged from building houses and working with scrap metal to writing for the Time Inc. publications. Later I did the same when I needed extra money at Oxford. I had a choice between writing for Time Inc., but committing for a year, or being a heavy freight porter at the Oxford Station. The principal of my college was a sweet person, but he had estimated costs as they were when he was at Oxford. Had a fun moment when he was getting off a train from London and I asked, “Carry your bag, Sir?” which left him stunned. He had no idea I was working at the station — university students did not do that sort of thing. But I could put in overtime and not do badly.

I found friendships at all of my blue collar jobs — a little testing out to make sure I was not a snob, but then ok. Got my British mates sharing cigarettes which was not their practice there. At the American factory my buddies got quite protective when they realized I was working two full time jobs six days a week — to save money for our year at Oxford. I was exhausted and would fall asleep at lunch hour, and they would stack bales around me to let me sleep on a bit. I was a year into divinity school so I was called “preacher.” One day this huge guy came at me and accused me of flirting with his wife — who that was, I did not know. But suddenly he backed off and and when I turned around my buddies were putting their switch knives back in their pockets. Life was good for them. One had his own small plane. Another was a boater.

These days are a nightmare in comparison. No certainty that a factory will not suddenly close down and move over ‘there’ somewhere. Whole towns are left stranded. We live in terribly divided classes — rich versus poor and just making it.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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