Blue Collar Workers – Forgotten Until We Need You by Christine Motta Faria
Originally published 11-2012 by Raving Consulting Company
Have you ever been at the grocery store and the guy in line next to you reeks … of fresh asphalt, and it is almost too much to bear?
You know him. The construction worker with the deeply lined face, whose hands are as big as baseball mitts, scarred and calloused. The mechanic with the grease following the lines in his palms. The man covered with concrete slurry in the bright orange T-shirt with steel toe boots picking up a 12-pack at the end of a long week. The Mexican laborer you see loading up before the sun rises each morning, driving a dilapidated mini truck.
Yeah, the men and women who might be a little too redneck, a bit too dirty, sometimes not well-spoken, who pull at their collars when they have to wear a dress shirt for a wedding. You can pick them out at your property’s better steakhouse; it is a special occasion to dine with you at your restaurant.
You know, the neighbor who’s nice to have around since they can fix anything as they are a plumber, an electrician, a sheet metal guy. But you wonder why their trucks have been in their driveways for weeks at a time — are they trying hard enough to find work? After all, the economy is coming back, right?
It struck me last night, as images of the devastation from Super Storm Sandy filled my TV screen, of contaminated water, downed trees, obliterated beaches, rescue workers walking through calf-high, filthy water, that these are the men (and women) who will guarantee that the subways will be functioning faster than thought possible, that the streets will be passable and that the several tons of debris would be taken away. That homes and cars will be fixed and that power will be turned on.
One reporter was showing the subway — the blackish water was as deep as two flights of stairs, and he said that there were workers there that night, trying to pump out the water in the darkened tunnels. Yeah, these are the folks who will be laboring for unbelievably long shifts. A desk jockey like me would certainly physically fail and think it was sheer hell, but they will be happy for the work.
And I betcha, these are the same people, like here in Nevada, who have been just scraping by because there is still not enough work to go around for people who rely on their bodies to support their families. These are the same folks who are driving around a piece of crap, old car that a tree just fell on and insurance won’t pay them enough to get a decent replacement because the car isn’t worth anything.
These are the folks who will be relied on to clean up the devastation; these are the folks we have always relied on to get the lights and the heater back on.
I can tell you this. I can’t imagine a better, a stronger, a more patriotic workforce that will be out there trying to get people back to work, back to school, back to their homes.
From all of us here in our corner of the world in Reno, our thoughts go out to everyone, our clients and friends who have suffered greatly from Sandy. And thank you to all of those folks who work so hard to make sure we can do our jobs and support our families, not just in times of crisis, but every day.
PS — You know that guy with dirt caked on his jeans who just got done with a 20-hour shift and doesn’t smell so good? That’s my husband and his co-workers, and they’d always be my first draft pick, no matter what the situation.