Getting worked up
As a freshman in high school, I’ll never forget a summer spent in East Texas. I was a lean kid, long on laughing and short on physical labor.
Living in Delray Beach, Florida, we made a trek to Mabank for what we thought was a grandparent’s deathbed. Turned into months in the searing heat, plus, no funeral. They recovered and lived another year. I wasn’t so sure that I would.
While spending time on an uncle’s ranch, I had the opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy the weather. Or so I was told. What it really was, was torture. I joined my cousins in the fields from sun-up to sundown… bailing hay.
Apparently you grab the square of supposedly dried grass, then hoisted it up onto a moving flatbed truck. There, a cousin would stack them like giant Rice Krispy treats. Another guy was driving the truck. Oh what fun those weeks turned out to be. We got paid 15 cents per bail, divided equally, though the one behind the wheel did his work in decidedly better environs.
Then came the hellacious part – unloading the bails, up to the roof inside a barn. The metal roof, complete with scorching temps, was the precursor for the microwave. I was the bursting bag of popcorn.
That was my first taste of life inside a kiln, of five-alarm chili on an empty stomach. You know the feeling… a buzzard’s armpit, hot road tar in Presidio, and a summer skunk, all rolled into one day of work, or so it felt to a city slicker getting schooled by good ol’ Texas teenagers.
I also remember that we got paid for this endurance test. Somehow, finding hay anatomically wedged into my jeans and socks was not worth the exhaustion and putridity. The money? No wonder kids like the ease of part-time jobs at fast-food restaurants.
The sweatband in a fireman’s helmet and those dirtiest jobs performed by Mike Rowe on the Discovery Channel are modern-day 9-to-5’s that can’t be adequately compensated. How Rowe handles horrendous working conditions, all the while smiling, I’ll never understand.
Let me tell you about global warming. It’s all the blue-collar jobs that people do, whether its slaving over grits on a griddle, changing tires, mowing lawns, working in plants, loading trucks, or shopping with your mother-in-law, it makes El Nino’s impact on the climate feel like milk and cookies.
Doesn’t all this scientific mumbo-jumbo about how humans cause this recent trend of gasses and melting ice stem from an overworked Al Gore? Either that or the atmospheric conditions are coming from people anticipating a pay hike to $15 an hour at jobs requiring no skill. Imagine that, underperforming in education or vocational training only to be rewarded with a government-mandated raise.
To be honest, most people really didn’t want to work when they were 16. We just wanted money for doing next to nothing. Asking folks if they want fries with their order should not come with enough compensation to feed a family of four.
There is, however, a new career being launched that contributes to fervent heat: the professional protester. Here’s how it works. A losing campaign gathers their unspent donations, pays for excuses – painted on signs, to be carried in front of TV cameras.
Extra pay if they assault those who disagree, with bonuses awarded for destroying property. The downside is working on weekends for a job you thought was an entry-level acting career.
True… applicants are paid to act like they care. History, even the Bible, has shown that people have been actually paid to cry at funerals. Skilled mourners.
Yes, it was artificial and staged, but we have now seen its modern-day equivalent, the pro-protesters. Instead of punching a time card, they get to sucker punch the unsuspecting passersby. Rather than actual work, folks are paid for getting worked up and inciting anarchy. Sure beats hauling hay.
Mark Warde is managing editor of The Ennis Daily News.