dignity of work tagged posts

Memories of Early Jobs

 So my daughter is searching for a summer job, which, provided she lands one, will be her first job of any consequence, save for the very occasional child care gig or house-tending for vacationing neighbors. As a recent high school graduate, she’s a little late to be entering the job world—that’s right, a child of privilege, ’nuff said—but her quest has put me in mind of my own early jobs and the deep memories and images they have left me with most of a lifetime later.

My first sort-of-real job was as understudy for my brother’s paper route. He was three years older, and once he landed the job, he appointed himself CEO. Then he hired me, his 9-year-old younger brother, to get up with him twice a week at 5 a.m. I’d deliver the Eagle Rock Sentinel up one side of the street while he did the other. We did this over a whole bunch of streets.

For this, he paid me the princely sum of $1 each day, $...

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Oh, the Troubles I Seen: A Photo Essay on Labor and Toil

Short of being completely disabled or extremely young or elderly, we must work. From the lowliest worm to the sparrow to kings and queens, we have to get after our daily labor.

In one form or other, we bring the vegetables in from the fields, the meat from the plain, the water from the river, going about our appointed tasks to keep ourselves fed and hydrated.

Call it Darwin’s first imperative: Do what we must do to get food and liquid down our gullets; survive for another day.

Farmer Taking Banana Crop to Market, Uganda, by Robert Muckley

Here in the West, we often conflate work with life itself—as our passion, our very identity, with a not-always-clear demarcation between it and the other forces of family, romance, leisure, recreation that make competing claims on human time and energy (in civilized places, that is, like Canada, or Europe…).

Or we apply the “work ethic” to all of life in vaingloriou...

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