Monday, May 27, 2019

Choking On My Blue Collar

So I've got these guys in my house today, working on demolition of my old flooring, before installing new tile.  And I'm unsettled.  I always feel uneasy when folks are doing hard labor around my house.  I call it "Blue Collar Syndrome".  All my young life I worked either in the fields around my native San Joaquin Vally home town, or did other menial work like fruit box assembly, or raking leaves in the park.

My blue collar legacy followed me into the military as well.  As a young enlisted man I worked part time as a janitor, bar room bouncer, food stocker for Kraft Foods, or security guard at various destinations.  And even in my private life I could never have afforded a yard man to cut my lawn, or someone to come in and clean house...even as my wife and I put in a hundred hours a week in full and part-time jobs.  

After my military career, when I began wearing suits and ties to work, I learned that "clothes do not necessarily make the man".  I felt guilty when the janitor came around to empty my waste basket, or vacuumed around my desk....even felt guilty for the Pakistani tea boys who brought me coffee or tea while working in Saudi Arabia.  

I could not even escape that blue collar in a hotel room.  I made a habit of cleaning up after myself so that the room maid would not think me a sloppy snob.  And if one came into my room when I was present I would quickly find an excuse to leave the room.  Somehow I always felt like all of this was work I should have been doing myself.

Alas, now that I am old I have had to hire people to do things I used to do for myself.  While never a handyman, I always feel guilty when I have to call in a plumber to fix a faulty toilet, or stopped-up kitchen sink.  

I suspect, were I to win one of those big lotteries, I'd have problems living a life of leisure.  No matter how well I paid a maid or cook I would feel just a little uneasy about working folks catering to me.  Now, at 71, blind in one eye, a cataract dimming the "good one", I am more and more in need of having someone come in to clean.  But I fear she would find me on my knees, cleaning the toilet as she arrived.

So, yeah, there's this guy out there, unearthing old carpet, pick axing old floor tiles, and with every clink of hammer, or metallic sound of shovel, I cringe just a bit.....even though I'm shelling out a quarter of my annual pension to get the job done.

Choking on that blue collar...even after seven decades.


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