On lifting that barge and toting that bale

Isn’t there an easier way to do this?

Happy Labor Day. Have you rounded up all your hidden colored eggs yet? Oh, that’s … uh … Easter.

No Labor Day is not a holiday on which we give gifts or shout hosannas or hunt Easter eggs. In fact, many people in the U.S. spend the day doing nothing or at least nothing of major consequence.

That is not to say that having a cook-out or party or a day on the bay or lake aren’t ways to make said day enjoyable. But in the grand scheme of the world, your water skiing or the fact you caught a five-pound bass today hardly ranks up there with fighting a war or working on an ambulance or even washing dishes in the local diner. But what do you care, right? Right. That’s the point.

It is nice to have a day — one which also symbolizes the end of summer — on which we don’t have to tote that barge or lift that bale and you can take a little drink and …

An article I read yesterday reflected upon how closely Americans identify with their jobs and noted how Europeans think it curious upon visiting the U.S. that the first question an American will ask you is: “What do you do?”

Many people work to earn a living while others feel that their job somehow will make them whole. Many love their jobs. Many hate their jobs. While I would not go so far as to say a little hard work never hurt anyone, most people realize what benefits — beyond salary and fringes one may receive from a job — love it or hate it.

The worst job I ever had was moving mobile homes. I did this one summer as an off-duty job when I worked as a firefighter and was not going to college during the summer semester.

Under old mobile homes, especially, all sorts of arachnids and who knows what else can be found. And just because it was “in the shade” under a trailer did it mean a cooler place would be found during that stifling East Texas summer.

One particular odious task was placing concrete block “pads” down on which a trailer would rest. We had one customer who wanted us to take these heavy pads and bury them with the top of the pad level with the ground. It was most difficult moving the pads and digging and placing the pads in the ground because of limited clearance between the bottom of the trailer and the ground.

Once I decided to take some vacation time from both my firefighting job and moving trailers. My now deceased friend Waldo was looking for something to do back then and I managed to get him hired as my substitute with the trailer moving company. It turned out that I quit the mobile home job soon afterwards. Waldo, who had a master’s degree at the time, continued moving pads and other tortuous tasks for several months.

My friend related a story that kind of sums up the work experience in our country. He said he was working on a particularly hot day planting those pads under a trailer. Taking a break, he said he shook his head and told the boss: “There must be an easier way to do this.”

“There is,” his boss replied, “get someone else to do it.”

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