Can we PLEASE remove the stigma for blue collar work in America?

“You don’t wanna be a garbage collector when you grow up, do you?”

$34,000 a year, no college needed?

God forbid you take an honest job $7,000 above Michigan’s average cost of living line.

“You don’t wanna be a ditch digger.”

Bitch, I was making $15 an hour, post tax, doing exactly that, the fuck is wrong with it? (Other than it was physically exhausting.)

We need to help America, as a whole, understand that college is not, and should not be he only option, and that there is NO SHAME in trade school or even getting a career right out of high school.

I, personally, know plumbers making $80,000+ a year. Better than most 4 year degree workers.

We need plumbers, janitors, truck-drivers, garbage collectors, machinists, to keep this nation running smoothly. And they deserve respect for what they do.

Miss me with your classist bullshit.

You know, here’s a funny thing. I always did great in school. Breezed through math, chemistry, physics. Everyone assumed I was going to be something important. Prestigious. A doctor. An engineer. A scientist. Something my parents could brag about, you know?

When I was a kid, I used to say things like: I want to be a woodworker! I want to be a hairstylist! I want to be an electrician!

And everybody said to me: don’t be ridiculous. Silly little girl! You’re so smart! You don’t want to be any of those things! You want a heavy acronym degree and a home in Martha’s Vineyard. You want a big desk, a country club membership, 2.5 cars and a purebred dog.

So I went to a really, really fancy college. And I studied fancy things. And I hated it.

Like, don’t get me wrong. I thought math and chemistry and things like that were interesting. But the idea of being in school for 7 years and then launching into a Respectable Career filled me with dread. Couldn’t I study science and math as a–a hobby? And maybe, you know, become a carpenter instead?

Everybody was fucking flummoxed. I was, no shit, referred to a psychiatrist. Because if someone is capable of becoming a doctor, they must be literally insane to want to do blue collar work instead. 

I like doing things with my hands. I like spending several hours bent over a task, and having visible results at the end of it. I like solving concrete problems that have straightforward solutions, like: this person’s fingernails need to be repaired, or this shelf needs to go up, or I need to make a dress for a party. Sometimes, while I do those things, I think about math and science. And that’s nice. But that’s just something to keep my mind turning over while I happily cover myself in paint, wood glue, thread trimmings, whatever.

The structure and routine of white collar work sounds stifling and depressing to me. I don’t need much money to be happy, certainly not Doctor Money. Blue collar work sounds perfect to me. It always has. It sounds satisfying and fulfilling and it would meet all my financial needs. So why do I feel this weird cringe when I talk about making the change? Why do people act pityingly about it, like, oh, she just couldn’t Cut It at a “real job?”

Sure, a lot of people take blue collar jobs just to pay the bills. A lot of people take white collar jobs just to pay the bills. But is it so completely goddamned inconceivable that somebody might actually prefer blue collar work? That for some people–people with “options,” people who could be doctors, if they were so inclined–hairstyling or bricklaying or car repair is the dream job?

“You don’t want to be a ______” well maybe I fucking do.

Quite literally every job I’ve been happy in has involved not using my degree and actually paid more. I earned roughly the same money doing weddings and hosting tea parties as I did editing, and I worked half the hours with none of the same responsibilities.

I enjoy editing…but y’know, if someone had told me I didn’t have to go through the absolute hell that was academia, I could have been working my way up to top tier management by now, instead of struggling at the bottom of a profession that doesn’t allow me to live.

Thomas Sowell, a former professor who’s written several books, once wrote a column saying that every job he had before his professorship was “menial”. He went on to point out that society would miss garbage collectors much sooner than it would miss, say, economists.

One “menial” job I had in my 20s, I liked in itself, but I had to quit because so many of the people I dealt with in that particular place were rude to me for having that “low status” job. How stupid is that.

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