Life’s Hardest Jobs
Back in Sandy Point there were a lot of hard jobs. The options for doing them were small. Fire wood had to be cut, animals fed, land plowed, crops planted and cultivated. Peas picked and shelled and canned. Yards were swept (yes, swept-there was no lawn grass). Dishes were washed and dried by hand and floors scrubbed on your hands and knees. Repairs to home and equipment usually were done without hiring someone. Big jobs usually involved volunteers.
Meals had to be prepared. There was not a McDonalds within 3000 miles. In fact, they weren’t invented yet. Eating out was not something that happened unless you went to Grandma’s house.
The little town near where my grandparents lived actually had restaurants on every corner in the fifties that served the people who had discovered that Florida had beaches and that it was a lot warmer there than in Michigan and Illinois and Pennsylvania in the winter. But most of the family’s eating was done at home except maybe after church on Sunday, once in a while.
Cutting and baling hay in the summer: now that is hard work! Hot, hard, dirty. A lot of that work today is handled by mechanical equipment but there is still some work. Those big bales now handled by tractors is far easier than those bales handled by hand. Watermelons? That was another hard job in the summer if you had a fifty foot tractor trailer and fifty acres of watermelons to go in it, you were looking at a lot of work.
Even in today’s high tech world there are still plenty of hard jobs. Finding people wanting to do them after being raised their whole life being told to avoid those kinds of jobs has gotten harder and many have been left to people who, for whatever reason, simply can’t do anything else.
But the hardest things we do may be just part of living our life. Being a good parent, a good wife or husband, a good student, a good neighbor, or doing the right thing. In the movie, Scent of a Woman, Al Pacino has a line where he says he always knew what was the right thing to do but that he often did not do it because it was too hard!
We see those fathers and mothers that toil their whole lives at difficult, dead end jobs because of their choice to do right by their families. And, so often, it was without those who were the beneficiaries even being aware of the unfulfilled dreams and hopes left behind in the process of doing the right thing.
I once was having dinner with a friend and I asked her what was her secret dream in her life. She was a wife, mother and had done several jobs successfully in her life. Her answer surprised me: “I always wanted to be a country music singer!” I knew she sang in church but never suspected she would have enjoyed trying her hand at singing as a career.
So, when we are unwinding after a hard day at the office we probably should remember that we are not alone. There is probably someone, somewhere , that would give anything to be in your shoes and have your hard job to go to every day.
If there was one thing I learned back in the day it was that a lot would not get done by wishing. “Spit in one hand and wish in the other,” my Grandmother would say, “and see which one fills up first.” I can tell you that having Amazon bring a new shirt to your door is not as hard as taking some cloth, scissors and a singer sewing machine and making one. Life can get hard sometimes; much harder than cutting firewood and loading watermelons.
© 2017 JC