Bygone Days
Off The Wall, Sep 03, 2010

With the nearing Labor Day, there should be one thing and one thing only that crosses people’s mind – just what this holiday is all about. Unfortunately, people’s thinking process has changed. What the general public, at least in my opinion, will be concentrating on is the start up of schools in the area which has gotten underway already, the cooling of temperatures, or the beginning of the football season.

Nobody wants to hear, for instance, that I worked hard doing various jobs and being employed at various locations for the last 50 years until I was forced into retirement. It kind of falls on dead ears. Oh, yeah, people may ask, “What did you do,” but after hearing that, the scheme of questioning is lost in the wind, and a new question arises.

There were men and women with whom I worked that showed me that they knew their trade. When I visited the malls or hardware stores and saw laborers with dirty clothing usually with oil splattered all over their shirt and pants, I knew the apparel had not been purchased that way, but it was a sign of intensified labor, probably underneath cars in a body shop. In any case they were mechanics in all probability.

I’ve heard it many times – “People back in the olden days worked, and they worked hard. Today they have a changed attitude and don’t want to put forth to put bread on the table.” There is some truth to that.

Generally speaking, for example, farming has always and will always be an occupation of laborious requirements. I don’t think the general public has any idea what the farmer goes through to make sure people in our country, generally speaking, have enough food for their table. Outside of the fact that some produce comes from other countries, there still is hard labor that goes into making sure that it is FDA-approved and stands ready for our shelves at the markets.

I think there is something to be said to thinking back to those bygone days when workers slaved on the railroads so the tracks could be installed for railways’ connections.

If we were all close our eyes and imagine, just for a few moments, a profession which comes to mind between the 20’s and the 40’s, for example, we each may have example. And with those, we could visualize workers hard at work.

Now, I’m not saying that men don’t work hard today. All one has to do is go to steel mills in the area, tool and die and machine shops, and you would find hard-working area residents. And as much as I hear some folks putting them down, teachers are doing an excellent job preparing children and young adults for what ahead in their future.

And to fall in line with that, youth who want to learn and benefit from what they are taught are responding by keeping their noses between the pages despite the many distractions with which they may be faced throughout the upcoming months.

And, not to take away from the many different occupations whereby men and women are working hard, there are behind the scenes’ opportunities that youth and adults alike may take advantage. Through use of the Internet, children are home-schooled and adults may get their masters by going on line to achieve their goals.

But yet, our employment rate in this country is down averaging close to nine percent. I’m sure there will be people who won’t celebrate this day as they should, for their eyes will be directed toward finding employment.

What is still questionable in my mind is “Why are there so many want-ads that seem to fill the classified sections in newspapers?” If I was still able to work eight-ten hour days, and needed to put bread on my table, I think I would file an application for one of these positions, especially for the ones where it specified, “No experience necessary.”

I don’t get it. If people are really capable of working, why not step forth and tell the employer you are a hard worker and want to set an example such as the men in bygone days. “They worked hard and so will I”. What employer wouldn’t want to hear those words?

On the other hand, I have talked to many, who has assured me that their life is content, and they are getting everything they want and need. As one guy put it, “Why should I work. The government gives me everything I need.”

I have no answer to that. I always felt great when I was able to give of myself, work hard, and know at the end of the day, I did what God called me to do – “labor for eight hours.”

- Paul J. Volkmann
You can contact me by email