I’m legit. I’ve got cred. I’m as blue collar as any other writer out there. There is nothing fake about me. I once spent six years in an office, but I’ve spent twenty in a factory. I’ve thrown garbage, dug ditches, painted, hauled loads over my shoulder, and pushed wheelbarrows. I’ve always been working class.
But somehow that’s hard to show anymore. These days everyone dresses like a bum and talks like a sailor. Everybody tries to fit the mold because deep down they want to be that guy. But those who talk the talk without walking the walk don’t give a very flattering picture of what a working man is. So let me try to convey to you what being a working man means to me.
Everything I have in this life I’ve earned the hard way. I’ve always earned my daily bread by the sweat of my brow. I’ve never earned a penny from somebody else’s labor, never told another human being what to do. I’ve often seen an easier way of getting what I wanted but never took it. I want to know that I earned what I have. I want to know that what I have was not taken unfairly from another or that what I have is mine merely because I spoke up louder in my desire for it.
But working class doesn’t mean folksy to me. Sure, it means keeping my boots on the ground, but it doesn’t mean my thoughts can’t float amongst the clouds. To work with my hands means I sell my labor for pay. Some people sell their minds, having their thoughts working towards another’s interests. And many sell their souls for money. Me, I sell my body. And physical labor, honestly done, is a balm to the soul. In selling the efforts of my body, my mind is free to think thoughts I want to think. I do not have to hammer my outlook into one that is pleasing to the powers that be. I do not have to buy into the system, whatever system it is. It usually boils down to the bottom line, a desire to make the most money possible. I’d rather nail that number down with a set amount so that my thoughts can then be put towards more important matters. If your main concern is the bottom line, your thoughts are never far from it.
To me working class means I’m basically no different than anybody else. The person that cleans the toilettes at my work is as important to me as the guy who keeps the computers up and running. As a matter of fact, I place far greater value on clean toilettes, and I appreciate the work done to keep them that way more than the guy who’s keeping clean in the office.
I don’t like it when the working guy gets stiffed, or put down as being less important than the mucky mucks who run things and get paid the big salaries. I see blue collar workers putting in 60 hour weeks and I wonder how many more hours the CEO puts in each week. If he’s earning 10 times the pay does that mean he’s putting in 600 hours every week? Sure, he’s got the education, but when I’m on the shop floor I question what he was taught in school. I see it every day, the consequences of his decisions. But while his communication runs all the way down to the bottom, to me in other words, my feedback never makes it anywhere close to him. He is ignorant of my input in a way that a driver of a vehicle can never be ignorant of where the rubber meets the road. His value is a perceived value, and does not correlate to actual product being made.
And that’s what I was referring to earlier when I said a working man’s feet never leave the ground. It’s the blue collar man’s job to make the pieces fit when those in the theoretical realm miscalculate. While I have my pet theories just like everyone else, I know they have to be placed in the real world before I know their value. I make a living, and the most I ever sell is my labor.