Sunday, May 24, 2009


A friend of mine at work often wonders what his life would've been like if he'd have spent his professional career working in and practicing a trade instead of pursuing white collar work as he has. In the same breath he usually wonders if he'd worry about his work when he goes home, or think about it over the weekend. And it's not just idle speculation - his thoughts are informed by an understanding of his Dad's work - a former Navy Seabee who now works on large construction jobs.

My wife and I tend to drive older vehicles and my wife and I personally have come to highly value the work of one particular repair shop where the guys there seem adept at identifying a problem and fixing it. I've learned that letting anyone else work on our cars is a risky proposition. And they're also the kindof guys who'll tell you if something is _not_ a problem so that you don't spend money you don't need to.

I know from repair bills that there's serious money to be had for tradesmen who can do a good job. And the older I get I've also wondered why such skilled trade work has become frowned upon by our educational system. As we train more and more people to work in an information economy I wonder if we might be advised to step back and re-evaluate. This article in the NYTimes prompted me to write this as it presents a compelling case for thinking about the "character of work" as having a value in itself - and for our need to be more intimately connected to the product of our labor, and less of a cog in the machine.
Quote: "Everyone is rightly concerned about economic growth on the one hand or unemployment and wages on the other, but the character of work doesn’t figure much in political debate."

"The Case for Working with Your Hands" is one of the better reads I've come across in a while.

No comments: