Sunday, January 24, 2021

Blue collar contribution to society undermined by achievers

“You better take care of your car if you plan on driving home for this wedding.”

Great, another voicemail from my mother. My car has been dead in the Macdonough parking lot since the first week of classes this semester. Why didn’t I take care of it sooner? I was too busy and it was too cold out. I know, I’m a lazy college student.

The next morning after I received that voicemail, I called up State Farm like a big boy and called for a tow. I had never done that before.

The tow guy arrived an hour later and told me it would be difficult to push my car out of the parking spot with a flat tire. I told him I had an extra wheel in the trunk of my car and got my jack and four-way wrench out. But what had surprised me was the fact that this rugged, gray-haired man began changing the tire for me. I know how to change a tire and had no problem doing so.

This guy even gave me a ride to the mechanic. As I got out of the tow truck, I reached into my wallet and was disappointed to find a mere two wrinkled singles in there. I had planned to give this guy $20 for his troubles but chose to spend my money on alcohol this weekend, instead.

I walked back from the mechanic and took a trip to Stewart’s for a cup of coffee surrounded by a group of the usual Stewart’s demographic: grizzly men with crooked teeth, yellowed from black coffee and topped off with Carhartt coats and camouflage hats.

“I’m sorry, bud, I didn’t mean to block the creamer from you,” one of the men said to me.

He was with another man, and for whatever reason, I decided to engage in conversation with them. They talked about how they were retired from 30 years of employment. One baked loaves of bread, and the other?

“I cleaned his s—,” the man said, pointing at the baker.

He worked for the septic service. At this point, I was a little uncomfortable, and said, “Well, someone’s gotta do it, right?”

I thought about what I had just said.

“Someone’s gotta do it.”

As a college student, I’m expecting to graduate with a job in the career field I went to school for. But what if I don’t end up having this job? I mean, both of my siblings now have jobs that don’t relate to their degree: One works in a warehouse, and the other works for UPS.

Life without a car made me think about my future during the long walks I was forced to take. Sometimes, dreams don’t always come true, and maybe I’ll end up cleaning up someone’s s—, too. That’s life, man.

Society places such a high emphasis on success that we often look down on those who don’t receive any credit for working a register, towing cars or making our food. Without these occupations around, life would be chaos.

So instead of paying no mind to the people you deal with on a daily basis, try thanking the people who provide you a service. Gratitude can go a long way.

Email Chris Burek at

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