Hurry–3 Days Only

IMG_1872Labor Day is a challenge for me. Since I shifted to a blogging schedule that includes a Monday post, and since that’s when I sometimes get all philosophical, it seems that I should address the holiday in some meaningful way.

It’s hard because, here in the US, Labor Day is tightly coupled with the end-of-summer, or the start-of-school or some “amazing” sale – yes, yes, I know, 3-Days only. The notion that we would pause from any of that to recognize labor and the labor movement is, sadly, laughable.

At first, I thought I would rewrite a post I did a few years ago. Then I realized that I did that last year. Then I read Evelyne Holingue’s post and I thought, “Well, at least someone else is thinking about this” so I decided to face this disrespected holiday head-on.

Death Calendar

Each red cross stands for a man killed at work…

That didn’t go well.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a perfectly good draft, all about the modern labor problems caused by companies that keep their labor force working at part-time levels, or employ “contractors,” or who are feverishly eliminating anything resembling entry-level jobs, either with automation, or drones or Apps.

IMG_1869Last week, I asked an employee at Home Depot where steel angle brackets were. He didn’t know, but he told me to “download the Home Depot App, pick this location and search for the item.” It worked. Later, as I was standing in line, the cashier directed me to the self-serve checkout, if I wanted to “save time.” I wondered if either person realized the potential outcome of me helping myself (and helping them out of a job).

I was 950 words into that post before I got to the second of three main points. Count your blessings and thank your lucky stars I decided to shelve that one for a year.

Let me cannibalize that post and share a poor-poor-pitiful-me story of my history with real labor. Immediately before starting college, I worked in a non-union machine shop outside of Pittsburgh. I was trained to operate several different machines. The work was hard and dangerous. Once, I was cut very badly on my right hand. I was told that if I missed work the following day, I would be fired. I went to work for two days, with my hand bandaged to keep the blood in and in a rubber glove taped at my wrist to keep the cutting oil out. Then, I was told to: “take tomorrow off so your hand can heal.” “Tomorrow” happened to be the day of the “surprise” OSHA inspection.

Full-time employees in that shop got one vacation day for each year of service, up to a maximum of 15 days. They received an anemic medical insurance policy for themselves. They could pay the full cost of adding their spouse and family if desired. If one of those full-time employees was sick, he had the option of using a vacation day or not being paid. As a part-time employee, I got $1.95 an hour.

Actually, that was 20% more than minimum wage, and I was very happy to get it. I hated that job, but it helped me contribute to my college education. I was able to save one semester’s tuition. Try that with a part-time job today. Try that with a full-time job.

Anyway, I’ll leave the Labor Day musings for another day, or another blogger, or some social work PhD candidate or, please no, some politician. I don’t have the answers, but I know some answers will inspire more questions. I also know that technology will continue to change the labor landscape faster than our education system can prepare people to enter the workforce. Then again, given that I have spent the bulk of my career working in an industry that didn’t exist when I graduated from college, I guess that has always been the case.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included some recent scenes from my current part-time job, a.k.a. walking Miss Maddie. For your listening pleasure, Linda Ronstadt’s recording of “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.” Happy Labor Day. If you’re driving today, say a small prayer for the iron workers, machine operators and construction laborers who made that possible.

And, here’s Linda.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
This entry was posted in History, Photography, Working for a living and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to Hurry–3 Days Only

  1. Lovely captions. :) Waves to Maddie, the solo singer and yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GP Cox says:

    I always do a Monday post and just skipped over Labor Day. Being retired, it doesn’t exactly give me a day off to celebrate with a bar-b-que (despite the fact that tonight’s lunch IS ribs) :) It never meant much to me when I was working either – because I usually had to work it. So, like you – I’ll leave the holiday to someone else to blog about.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m going to focus on Maddie’s wonderful photo, and I love her little patio chair. :-) As an employee most of my adult life and an HR executive for many of those years, I’d need more space than this comment box, and I’d put everyone to sleep or on edge. I’ll just say thanks to all those who came before us, but we have a long way to go especially with this loop hole of hiring people below 40 hours per week in order to avoid paying benefits. :-)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Judy. I’m looking forward to when walking Maddie IS my full-time job. There are so many loopholes that are being exploited in the name of profit. Uh oh, here I go. Yeah, look at that happy pup. Her little cot keeps the bugs off her. When we go through the porch to the yard, she looks over at it…”can we sit?”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. quiall says:

    That was a lovely walk with Maddie and Linda. Takes me back . . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bikerchick57 says:

    Happy Labor Day to you, Dan, along with your editor, Maddie, Mimi and Mumu. The job you had before college sounds horrible. One vacation day a year, up to 15 days? Wow, that’s pretty hard labor. And, on top of it, they didn’t seem to worried about employees’ injuries. I think that part may have changed with employers…maybe, hopefully. Have a great walk with Maddie (she’s adorable) and enjoy your day off from work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Mary. That place changed, but not until OSHA shut them down for several days to add necessary safety equipment after a worker was horribly injured. That was about two years after I quit. I was lucky to get better summer jobs in each of the following four years. Maddie and I are back from our walk. It’s clear and cool today, perfect dog-walking weather. She’s so funny. She gets so happy that she suddenly turns, jumps up and gives us a kiss. It’s the sweetest thing, when she doesn’t scare us half to death.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh, I might need an extra day to process the emotions I feel just thinking about the labor issues you have reminded me of.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And a little prayer for the people who didn’t forget what the Labor movement is about and what it brought us. Thanks for another thoughtful post, Dan. Only people who’ve been through some kind of work experience can appreciate the value of the past and also the importance to remain careful. What is gained can be taken away when people get too complacent and sadly ignorant.
    I’ve worked at a young age in France and although we were supported by a strong union it wasn’t the case for seasonal jobs. Thanks again for sharing your own stories and for linking them to this special three-day weekend. And thank you for the dogs, and the birds and the skies. And the song too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Evelyne. It’s not hard to remember jobs like that. The big thing I remember is that most ot the people I worked with were planning to work there, or had already worked there, for a long time. Those jobs rob you of your health, slowly but steadily over time.When congress talks about raising the retirement age, I think of those men.

      Like

  8. loisajay says:

    Is it just the light or is Maggie really a golden girl? Her paws and the top of her head look so beautifully illuminated. Dan, I work in Risk Management, so the reaction to your badly cut finger truly made me cringe. Surprise OSHA inspections….oh, yeah. We still get calls from frantic clients needing their OSHA log that was, by the way, mailed out to them by 1/31, as instructed! Arrrgh!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Lois. Maddie is mostly red, but she has light hair at the top of her head that curls in the weirdest ways, and she has light streaks on her chest and feet. I guess “surprise” meant less than 24 hours notice. They got a call in the afternoon and I was gone. We also had a visit from something like the EPA. They had been throwing waste material in the creek behind the shop for years. We spend several weekends cleaning that up. I can imagine your face when you get those calls ;)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. dweezer19 says:

    Nicely (averted) done Dan. I have those writing experiences too. But I love your story here and empathize. I was once threatened diring for being out of work for one day at McDonald’s when I had flu. Mu husband at that time was the store manager at another location. I said fine, I needed to quit. And I moved on. I opened that store every morning for two years without missing a day until then. That guy got his ass handed to him. Bet he still has a useless degree in business and rwtired managing sonething ither than a good attitude. 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Miss one day and get fired? It sounds crazy but it still happens. I have a friend who works construction. He broke his arm on a Thursday and they let him have Friday off. The foreman told him that if he didn’t show up on Monday, he was off the job and they wouldn’t hire him again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. dweezer19 says:

    PS I adore Linda Ronstadt.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. dweezer19 says:

    They want. They want. They don’t appreciate. Don’t get me started. But I am in such a good place now. Working so hard but doing it happily!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Hi, Maddie, you beautiful creature you!! You lucked out in the human department when you got the parents you did! As for the rest of the images, great job, Dan! I like you am not too sure what this day is supposed to be all about so I just go about my business as per usual. Technology’s impact on the medical profession is just the opposite of what is told here. When I was working as an RN I was told computers would simplify our jobs. Now that was an outright lie for today computers have medical professionals in a computer more then they are paying attention to the patient. Whenever I see my GP (and believe me I’m thinking of changing!) I talk to the back of his head. Very disrespectful and makes me feel so insignificant while he is busy typing away in the computer. How I got on this subject on Labor Day beats me but instead of deleting what I just wrote I’m just posting this comment. LOL Happy Whatever Day, Dan!!! <3

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Having never worked a union job (nor has my husband as far as I know), I’ll stay out of that discussion and besides, it’s a day off..or it would be if the tea shop where I work part time were open on Monday. :-) Had a good bike ride with my husband earlier and am enjoying catching up on posts from some of my favorite bloggers, compliment meant. Enjoy the day, Dan.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wonderful Post, Dan. I enjoyed the view of your college job. I had several of those and I was lucky not to be injured. Lost a shirt to red hot machine filings but that was the worst of it. Happy Labor Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good post. Thanks for sharing your experiences. However, I wanted to know how did they know about OSHA surprise inspection in advance to keep you and your injured hand away.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Joanne Sisco says:

    I don’t want to start a rant of my own – but why not? Minimum wage that’s no where close to a living salariy is one thing, but unpaid “internships” is another.
    Let’s call it what it really is … a form of slavery. This is where all the entry level positions have really disappeared to for young people learning a job. When did slavery become legal again?

    Liked by 2 people

  17. joey says:

    First of all, your captions cracked me up! :D
    Maddie is SO CUTE!
    Also, hiding you from OSHA reminded me of how they’d try to hide Corporal Klinger on MASH. lol
    Linda Ronstadt was an icon of my early childhood. Despite popular artwork, I thought surely the holy mother looked like Linda Ronstadt.

    I am glad to have my job. I’ve been glad to have most jobs I’ve had, even if only for a short time. When I worked with people who complained about their jobs, I’d reflect on shucking corn. Now, for that job, we got paid VERY VERY WELL, and for very good reason. Our young bodies were mangled the end of the day, hands torn up especially. We were filthy, sweaty, aching all over, and really, hot doesn’t seem like the right word. So when I worked wherever, I’d look down at my manicured hands, breathe my air-conditioning, look at my chair or at the very least, my rubber mat, and think about how lucky I was to have whatever job was not shucking corn.
    I’ve worked for some companies who really knew how to treat employees and those were the jobs I kept the longest. Treating employees well creates such a positive work environment, I seldom doubted how green the grass was in my own workplace, I knew I had it good.
    I still know a lot of people who need a better job and keep hunting, and I have a lot of feelings and opinions about labor overall, so I should not type about that here, but I’ll just say I am loath to self-checkout. :/

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and the captions. My current employer treats us well, and I am really proud and happy to work here. I’ve been here for over 28 years. Whenever I hear people complaining about their jobs, I think of that machine shop, and I usually hum a bar from “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”. Sometimes, you have to take a job, any job. Sometimes, you have to leave a job you like for one you like less but which pays more. Sometimes, you need to be happy. I don’t have the answers to today’s labor issues, but I’ll wait in line for the human checkout clerk.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. reocochran says:

    I liked your hard working hand injury story and so glad OSHA earned you a day to heal.
    I am always sad not to read your ramblings but happy to see Miss Maddie and the views from your walks, including birds. :) ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Glynis Jolly says:

    In elementary school, I was taught that Labor Day was a holiday to honor all who work, hopefully giving that 110%. I don’t know if there’s all that many who give that much of themselves in their work anymore though. For me, it marks the end of summer. Depite the temperatures still soaring, the nights are cooler and the breeze is too.

    Like

    • Dan Antion says:

      Growing up in Pittsburgh, we learned a lot about the labor movement, in school and from family members who were invested in its success. We also heard a lot of stories about “the old days” so I carry an appreciation for the battles those people won, that benefit us all today. I mostly treat the day as another day off, but I try to find some way to acknowledge the broader meaning.

      Like

  20. marianallen says:

    Thanks for taking us along on the walk with Maddie. That darn lead singer, taking off on his own! lol!

    The way labor is treated is shameful. It always has been, except when the unions forced the hands of management, and now collective bargaining is hamstrung. Okay, no, really, look, no soapbox, see? Oh, THAT? No, that’s not a soapbox, that’s a … a … it’s to put story notes in. Yeah. Or a bookcase unit. Yeah.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Paul says:

    I get good ideas for holiday-related posts, Dan. For example, I thought of a Labor Day post that played off the Twilight Zone episode “The Brain Center at Whipple’s”. The problem is, these ideas usually hit on the afternoon of the day in question, so I wind up sighing and saying I’ll do it next year. 365 days later, I repeat the process. So good on ya for getting even this post done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      That would be a great post for Labor Day, Paul. The scary thing is that, between automation and off-shorization, we’re closer to that doomsday scenario than we were in the early 60s.

      I try to think ahead. The only time I am successful is for National Train Day and Memorial Day. I have next year’s Memorial Day post figured out, but it’s killing me not being able to share some of the thoughts ahead of time. The fact that National Train Day frequently coincides with Mother’s Day would only get me in trouble if mom read my blog :)

      Halloween might be a good time to explore Perchance to Dream. A lot of amusement parks have Halloween themed months of horror .

      Like

  22. Peter Nena says:

    I love that song by Linda Ronstadt. And that bird just taking off. I like the moment frozen there. Fraction of a second between the flapping of wings. Great!

    Liked by 1 person

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