Let’s Transform Labor Day

And, in the process, honor those laborers who have specialized knowledge that is worth something in the labor market.

Now, this story is one that points out the special value to America of some very highly qualified craftsmen. But, many types of knowledge need to be honored:

  • Those that learned how to do their job – beyond the basics – and do their work with excellence. This could be a bartender who takes the time to pull the draft properly, the waitress who delivers your food hot and with all the garnishes, condiments, and drink refills.
  • Those that take the time to instruct younger co-workers on how to perform their tasks with care.
  • Those that don’t settle for a “good enough” job. I’m remembering several problem-solvers who made sure that the problem was properly addressed, even if it took a little longer.
  • Those that treat their customers as though they were family, with care, respect, and a cheerful willingness to do everything they can to make their experience a good one.
  • The people who, on the early shift, man the microphone, collect the money, and never forget to wish me a “Blessed Day”. Literally, service with a smile. And doing it before most of use even wake up.
  • The cooks and kitchen staff who work the sweltering months of the year (or, in much of the Southwest, EVERY day). God bless them for showing up, every day, and helping the rest of us get fed. Please, if you stop by a restaurant on a hot day, ask the manager to convey your appreciation to the kitchen staff. Wouldn’t hurt to leave some money on Labor Day for a treat after work.
  • Those who can’t attend the barbeque, because they were scheduled to cover a shift that day. Make up a plate with all the trimmings, and hand-deliver it to them.
  • Learn the names of your mail carrier, the cashiers, the janitorial staff, and the clerical staff. Take the time to tell their bosses what a great job they do, and how it brightens your day to shop there/meet them in the course of the day.


    • jc on June 18, 2022 at 12:24 AM

    My friend Liz is remodeling a condo, to be occupied by her daughter, a recent EE grad. This involves demo-ing the kitchen. This is her first endeavor in construction (The daughter, not the mother, although she tends to farm stuff out to experts, like me). It’s a learning experience for me. I know how to do this stuff. It’s intuitive. Now I have to stop and think about why I do it that way. You’d think that someone with a degree in something ending in ‘engineering’ would understand horizontal axis v. vertical axis, wouldn’t you? Moment of motion? A bloody FULCRUM FFS? And now that the walls are open, it’s time to redirect the wiring and plumbing. ‘Can’t we just use this wiring for another outlet here?’ Well, that’s a 220 dedicated circuit, we could, but I wouldn’t. Have to swop out the 220 breaker for a pair of 110s, then we’ve got a common neutral, but the load center uses breakers that haven’t been made for 40 years. She’s an ace script kiddie, but I almost reduced her to tears explaining Ohm’s Law. A GOOD university education (TAMU) in EE, and they never mentioned alternating current.
    For the love of Christ, she thought the way to break trim free was to start at the center! ‘NO! Start at one end, and work towards the other end!’ ‘Lift UP! Don’t push down! You weigh, what, 110 pounds? That’s the limit on how much you can push down before your feet leave the floor! You can lift more than that!’ 
    MY lads know this stuff. Made damn sure that they did. Largely working on Liz’s home place major remodel.  Any knowledge I have I’m happy to share. Why do I mark points the way I do. Looks like a check mark. A simple line will not be perfect, but the mark I made from a point, with 2 angles, well, you KNOW what it is. Simple, la? Picked that up from a trim carpenter when I was 13. Peen over the points on finish nails, so that they tear through the wood rather than splitting it. Who’da thunk! (I really like my Ryobi finish nailer, though, and MDF trim.)
    I know the tricks of the trade.  And I want to share them. Took me long enough, shouldn’t take a callow youth near as long. 

  1. When I was first teaching, the system I was working in decided to hire Indian teachers to teach physics and physical sciences. Many of them were highly qualified and often with advanced degrees. They could crunch numbers and solve paper problems in record time, like a boss.

    What they sucked at:
    – Breaking down concepts for students not particularly good at the math part – i.e., conceptual physics
    – Setting up lab equipment
    – Helping students to make sense of lab results

    That’s where the organization I was involved with came in. PTRA (Physics Teaching Resource Agents) had a pilot program for our district. My husband was a PTRA, and I’d experienced many of the workshops when I first began teaching science. It was designed to take teachers from theory to classroom-ready practice, and help them teach those who just “didn’t get” the science.

    Many of the teachers had been at the top of their class (and, in India, those are TRACKED classes – separated by skill and performance level). They haad little experience with students who could be in class, try their hardest, and just not get it.

    And, that’s where a lot of our students were. Not particularly gifted in math or science, passed along every year with acceptable grades “for effort”. But, completely out of their depth in high school physics.

    We showed them how to teach to that group of kids, using hands-on activities, and questions to guide them through their thinking about the underlying principles of science. They took to it like a boss. Out of that group came some very good teachers.

    You see, in India, it wasn’t uncommon for students to progress through school having only seen demonstrations of labs. Hands on labs weren’t all that common until recently. A teacher could graduate, and only in classes for their advanced degrees would they actually have the opportunity to set up the labs. BTW, that’s not uncommon in many countries – labs are expensive, the equipment and materials are vulnerable to “walking out the door”, and a teacher has to have the skills to keep kids both safe and learning.

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