It’s a dirty job, but…
Here’s “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe, testifying to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. In five minutes he makes the case for celebrating skilled work:
I didn’t do well in high school; the only classes I got A’s in were art and shop. So of course I took a lot of both. The shop building in our high school was equipped with what looked like surplus WWII equipment from Boeing. I learned how to measure, cut, machine, weld. rivet, bend, temper, and forge steel, along with a few other skills. And while I didn’t become a tradesman, some of those skills have helped me keep food on the table from time to time. At the very least they helped me appreciate the people who plan, build, and fix the artificial* environment we enjoy.
Many years later almost all the high schools in our area closed their industrial arts programs. One district superintendent told the local paper that “hobby classes” were not part of the schools’ core mission. It’s understandable, if rather short-sighted, living as we do in a community dominated by the world headquarters of two insurance companies, plus two universities. Kids get the message: a “proper job” means going to the office every day.
I remember being puzzled by the superintendent’s definition of “hobby”, living as he does in a house that is warm in winter, cool in summer, has electric light on demand, clean water and working sewers, a clothes-washing machine, and appliances in the kitchen. Maybe all the people who made that stuff happen for him were just doing it for a hobby.
- Yes, we enjoy our artificial environment. Observation suggests that when we pretend to like “natural” things, we mean the ingredients in our snack foods. Of course, rattlesnake venom is “all-natural”, so it’s possible to carry that too far.