Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Get This, These "testicles on my chin"

Through one of those roundabout processes too complicated to explain (and yet I would still be willing if you asked because that's just the kinda gal I am), I was exposed to the following link.

It's no secret how I feel about Mike Rowe and his existence in my life. He is so many of the admirable things I find in a human being. And after watching this video, I appreciate him all the more.

I was ... no, AM ... the daughter of a steel mill worker. Even more, I am the oldest daughter of a single steel mill worker, meaning as the oldest female in the household, I took on the roles of worrying and cleaning, thrust upon me beyond my choice and before I came to understand and celebrate my feminism and my female liberty. I mothered my younger sister and I learned the value of hard work. I learned about food stamps and government-issue cheese and butter, and about mold and how the children in my neighborhood would pity my family for being without a mother.

I saw my dad come home with burns on his skin, on his arms where the fire burned through any joke of protective clothing. I heard the stories of how steel-toed boots offered at best a false sense of protection when a stronger force deemed to exert its will. Dad told so many stories of the men forced on disability by a stronger will than their own ... and unfortunately, too often those stories were tinged with envy. The men he spoke of, you see, were done with their working time.

That's part of what struck me the most about the video that looms just beyond my diatribe. It's a speech given by Mike Rowe, Mr. "Dirty Jobs." Near the end, he talks about coming to a critical realization suddenly while filming a segment that found him with "testicles on my chin." He talks about how our society has come to castigate the notion of hard work, how we celebrate the escape from it, and in turn, create a class of worker to be shunned ... when the reality is this person who works the hardest is the one to be celebrated.

It's funny. And it's no secret that I lost my own job back in March. Hell, our country lost an INDUSTRY, the industry in which I worked. So when I hear someone wax philosophical about work, my interest is piqued. And yet the kind of work we're talking about here doesn't have time for piqued interests. It's too busy.


1 comment:

  1. Great post, Christina! I wonder if the view on hard work (as in the work you see in Dirty Jobs) will change because of the economy.