In Defense of Dirty Hands

I suppose it’s oftentimes true  that opposites attract. I have always been artistic, without an academic bone in my body, whereas my husband spent the entirety of his schooling as an advanced placement student. When we met he was  student in an engineering program. After two semesters of boredom and misery he said to me,”I don’t want to sit behind a desk; I hate school. I enjoy working with my hands, fixing things.”


In truth, it initially did seem strange that my significant other who could become anything, would want a  dirty job! With my support, he followed through on  changing his route and attended trade school. I have been proud of my husband. He’s  takes great pride in his work. A natural teacher, he eagerly  helps other technicians troubleshoot, and is known to be an honest and accommodating salesman.
Recently, an aquaintence told me what an awful shame it was that my husband had wasted his brain becoming a mechanic.  It was stunning that someone would say something so rude.


I was insulted not only for my husband, but for  all of those men who build and repair the cars, roads, and buildings we depend on. I wondered  how a person who excels at fixing things doing just that  for a living, could be perceived as wasteful. I thought of my grandfather, my uncle, and my father-in- law.

My grandfather had a passion and talent for construction and woodwork ; those skills combined with his winning personality resulted in him  owning one of the most successful contracting companies in my home state.  My uncle recently became the top salesperson in the US for the company where he once worked as a mechanic. My father in law  made a great living as a FedEx worker and supervisor.   I also have countless additional family members who hold various positions in the construction field. All of them are proficient, and provide well for their families.Those are the people I think of, when I hear the term “blue collar”. Growing up, I  never equated this type of work with stupidity, and naively didn’t realize some others did.



Given some of the elitist attitudes in today’s society, I  would be curious of the results if those who question the intelligence of blue collar workers attempted to do their “easy” jobs. What would happen if those who looked down their nose at mechanics had to fix their air conditioning when it died on a 100 degree day? Would it prove a simple feat for such a person to build their own home up to code, or repair their own plumbing if their house flooded?


It seems a natural response, being thankful there are people who help keep our houses warm , and our cars running. It’s disheartening that anyone who takes advantage of the opportunity to apply their effort, interests, and talents to learn  and improve upon a skill, would find themselves looked down upon. Has anyone  stopped to realize the shelter,  transportation , and climate control we often  take for granted was built and serviced by blue collar workers?  It’s my hope readers will ponder that, and learn to respect the contribution of these strong and hard working men.

As for me, I’m thankful my father, who has his Ph.D., didn’t take an attitude of delusional superiority when he fell in love with the hairstylist who would later become my mother.  Together, my parents raised me to introduce myself and show respect to anyone providing a service in our home. As Americans, I propose we embrace this faded ideal, and respect those who add value to our society, even if they get their hands dirty doing so.


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