Friday, May 22, 2009

how romantic!

So, there's an article up on the NY times magazine about manual labor and how it's underappreciated as a career choice. Now I can't find it - it was in the Sunday preview. But it should be up again tomorrow.

I agree that we shouldn't automatically disparage any and all careers that don't involve a college education. There are many different types of intelligence, and someone who's good at spatial relationships is not inferior to someone who's good at writing. And in my own family, those of us who went into the trades have a significantly more comfortable and secure living than the college graduates. Heck, I just mentioned recently that I'm paid far less than the drillers who work for me, and I'm probably on par with their helpers.

But let's not get carried away here. In the article (if you can find it), the author contrasts his experience working as a drone for a soulless corporation with his current job fixing motorcycles. This is silly. Not all management or office work is pointless and dull, and very, very few people who are mechanics (let alone other folks who work with their hands) get to putter around with exotic machinery, having confabs with friendly shops whose owners will help with the complicated stuff.

There is a historical reason why manual labor has been seen as less desirable, and it's one that he actually spends some time discussing. Manual labor is dangerous. It's messy. If you look up my drilling tag, most of the posts are safety related. Any time you're outside, working around machinery, there is a chance you'll get squashed or smashed or burned or frozen. If you take a poll of drillers with more than say, 10 years of experience, probably 1/3 to 1/2 have at least part of a finger missing.

I love being outside. I chose to be a geologist, to do environmental work. But if you think that working outside, getting my hands dirty, is some sort of soul-enhancing, romantic experience, well...maybe you should re-read my posts again.

No comments: