Twilight of the Tradesman

The most tragic and sympathetic victims of the United States’ deficient Medical-Political complex might be the American blue-collar workers.  We silently honor them every day, simply by going about our daily life activities.  We awaken from sleep on a mattress assembled by American factory workers and shipped to us by truck drivers or railroad personnel.  We reach up for a light switch installed by a tradesman and turn on a light attached to wires and components installed by an electrician.  We walk to the restroom over a floor poured by concrete workers and likely covered by materials installed by carpet layers or tilers.  The restroom is attached to a network of pipes carefully laid by plumbers after being manufactured in factories and shipped by truckers or railroad workers.  We enjoy clean water thanks to plumbers, water plant workers and chemists and dispose of our waste into a vast network of pipes and wastewater facilities built by tradesmen and maintained by plant operators, chemists, pipe-fitters, welders, plumbers, equipment operators and drivers.  We steer vehicles built by auto workers over roads dug, shaped, and paved by highway contractors that are lined by curbs formed by concrete workers and painted and maintained by road crews.  Every path we tread, every building we enter, every life activity we take for granted is the product of somebody else’s sweat, busted knuckles, pulled muscles and weary body.  They are the sinew of the populace.

Most of the men and women who work in the blue-collar trades don’t have college degrees, although some may have attended a trade school or taken part in employer or union sponsored vocational training.  Some attend junior college.  Many did passably well in high school and some of them participated in sports.  Some served in the military.  Most married, had kids, settled down and tried to earn enough to buy a decent house and car or two, maybe put something away for their retirement.  Some go to church, some don’t; some drink and/or smoke, some don’t; some cheat on their spouses and some don’t.  Most try to be good parents and most succeed to some degree.  Nearly all want their kids to do better, maybe even obtain that college degree that was not in their own life plan.  And, it seems, nearly every blue collar worker entered into the trades feeling young and invincible and expecting to stay that way.

 

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