My father was a coal miner. I am no stranger to hard, dangerous, low paying, essential work. He was the dynamite man. His job to blast out the coal face ready for the back breaking manual labor. His work made life and the economy better. Yes – it shortened his life. Yes, he was underpaid and underappreciated. Yes, he fought back against the injustices with little success. He was, however, one of the most amazing men – maintaining a sense of humor, spirit, dignity and astounding work ethic and sense of fairness throughout his life. He had a purpose.
For the past few weeks an injury has forced me to stay put. It’s been interesting. There’s construction in the building. I’ve had time to observe the men and women who make our lives more livable. I was reminded of my father. He was proud of his work. He made a difference.
The painters, sheet rock experts, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, window installers, roofers, those who clear up the debris come and go. A unique parade of diverse skills and people. They haul equipment, supplies, and usually a lunch box. Their work is essential to our economy. They make life more livable for many. Most are underpaid and underappreciated. They seem to enjoy their work. There’s comradery. They have a purpose.
We applaud and reward our professional athletes on a grand scale. Our plumbers and electricians not so much. Which could we live without?
Perhaps, instead of seeking who will work for the least pay and praise we consider which skills we can and cannot live without. Reward accordingly. I’m ready to add the home builders, improvement, and maintenance workers to an already long ‘essentials’ list. Most of their work cannot be done through artificial intelligence. What they create still takes the human touch of people with a sense of purpose.
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