I come from five generations of blue collar workers. Men and women hardened by harder work. I’m the first one in my entire family to have a Bachelor’s degree and to have a white collar job. And you know what? I don’t know how much I like it.
(My Grandfather leaning on his 1940 Buick)
I grew up in a household where it was respected and expected for you to work with your hands. As soon as I was old enough, I was out helping my grandfather dig post holes and mend fences for the horses. It was hard work, and I’ll admit, as a young kid it wasn’t how I really wanted to be spending my summers. Throwing hay was the worst. It was dirty, hot, and itchy. It made me strong though and with the calloused hands, came strength of cahracter and values that I still stand on.
(At 75, when things need to be done, they get done. Even if it’s eight degrees outside)
So off I went to college. “Four years of this and I’ll be set for life” I thought. I wanted the life, the money, the cool job title. I always thought that my route to happiness was through networking my way into a corner office somewhere with a bloated paycheck and an assistant to answer my emails.
The more I work towards that goal though, the more I realize that I’m not truly happy. I haven’t been happy with it because I don’t feel like I’m contributing to the world. I know that I’m doing good work and that I’m helping people. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my work, but it’s not fulfilling. I’m the faceless voice of a faceless corporation. I don’t get to actually meet the people I help. I don’t get to tell them thank you face to face.
(My Grandmother at 18)
To them, I’m just a robot, answering questions and taking shit and making sure that their first world problems are properly acknowledged and dealt with in a timely manner. Otherwise the world might end.
I’m realizing that I’m beginning to resent the office environment. Everything is political and everyone is too important in their own eyes for their own good. It becomes a dance on eggshells to make sure that no one’s upset or offended.
When you’re digging fence post holes, there’s no time for politics. Don’t like someone? Don’t talk to them. Angry about something? Go swing a sledge hammer for a few hours and you’ll be too tired to be angry anymore.
(My Grandfather on our horse Champ)
As I get older, I feel a deeper need to feel fulfilled by what I do. I’m continually looking for deeper relationships with my friends and am trying to figure out what really matters to me. I love my dogs, my family, my girlfriend,and working hard. It’s in my blood. I can’t help but want to bust my ass.
I think that we’ve forgotten to respect those that keep this place running, the people who built this country. The road pavers, the ditch diggers, the welders, construction workers, and plumbers. Somehow we’ve lost respect for manual laborers. We look down on people who work with their bodies like somehow they’ve been dealt a losing hand. Men and women like my grandparents made it possible for me to sit in an office chair and deal with issues that in the grand scheme of things may not be that important. It’s their blood and sweat that has made my life relatively easy. I can’t ever forget that.