I am a laborer. I worked the land for thousands of years with little more than my hands and a few simple tools for plowing and tilling the earth and planting crops into the earth. If more strength than I could muster was required I harnessed the power of animals to move dirt, water, crates, etc. in carts and wagons that traveled over the earth on wooden wheels, the wheel being that most useful object that was invented roughly 5,000 years ago. I worked all day and well into the night. I was paid little or nothing at all. Due to the labor I provided crops flourished and human beings were nourished. My work continues.
I am a laborer. I built and maintained many structures. At first they were small, quaint, and unimpressive structures. Later, because of more like me bigger, more impressive structures and buildings were built. Eventually these structures and buildings turned into cities where my work continued to be required. Old buildings were torn down. New buildings were built up. All of those buildings required constant care and maintenance. They all required work. My work continues.
I am a laborer. In an instant the earth that I knew and cherished so much for millenia had changed dramatically. Gigantic factories were built. Those factories could do amazing things such as weave cotton a thousand times faster than human beings could. Assembly lines were eventually instituted where vehicles, furniture, weapons, cosmetics, etc. would be assembled at speeds that human beings 250 years ago could scarecly imagine. Most of all those factories and the assembly lines within those factories needed workers to put all of those products together. My work continues.
I am a laborer. I prepare and cook food for those who don’t have to, are too lazy and/or privileged to cook themselves, who have gone out to treat themselves, or who don’t know how to cook. I started out with simple one or two dish ingredients. Then I began adding vegetables, herbs, and spices from the earth. I would also add fruit that grew out of the earth. My hours are long and hot, for cooking requires heat and the kitchen is a hot and sweaty place to work. My compensation is generally inadequate for the amount of time and effort that I put into my labors. Occasionally I am lauded but more often than not I am invisible as I work to bring that which the earth provides and transform it into something that your mouth and stomach crave. My work continues.
I am a laborer. I clean houses and buildings. I mop the floors and I dust off the shelves. I clean the bathrooms so they are kept sanitary for your use every day of the year. I empty the garbage so you don’t have to. I clean desks and furniture so they look as good as new. I wash windows and window panes so they stay nice and shiny. My wages are low but that is how it goes, for somebody has to clean our space. My work continues.
I am a laborer. I fix things. Cars, buses, airplanes, snowmobiles, lawn mowers, computers, printers, doors, signs, railroad tracks and railroad crossings, electrical wires, pipes, furnaces, water heaters, cabinets, walls, decks-you name it, I fix it. My job is busy and my job is constant. There is no time for a break. My pay is generally better than some but it would be nice to finally be able to sit down at a desk and give my hands a rest. That can’t happen today, however, for someone has summoned me once more. My work continues.
I am a laborer. My first real job was bagging groceries at a SuperValu in Duluth, Minnesota. I moved to work as a fast food cook and utility worker at Hardees. I washed dishes and cleaned floors in the cafeteira at Saint Cloud State University. I worked as a bakery wrapper and stocker and later a cashier at Cub Foods. I tried stocking grocery shelves at a different grocery store in Duluth but I couldn’t keep up (the only physical job I’ve done that I couldn’t do at the required pace). I helped remodel the aisles at Walmart. I cleaned classrooms, bathrooms, and hallways at a middle school. I mowed the Spirit Mountain campground and the grassy areas by the main chalet. I delivered beer kegs, beer, and pop cases at the MSP International Airport. I also prepared pizza hut pizzas and sandwiches on the same job. I drove and swept out a school bus. I drove a Metro Transit bus. I replaced cash boxes and transfers in buses. I cleaned and washed light rail trains on the Hiawatha Light Rail (now called the Blue Line). I inspected and maintained track and worked in the right of way for the same railroad. Although I no longer physically do these jobs my work continues.
I am a laborer. I work on and fix computers and other electronic technology. I diagnose and troubleshoot hardware and software issues. I reimage (reinstall) operating systems to maintain those systems. I set up computers and recycle equipment. I assist Saint Paul Public Schools staff with technology services issues and requests in person and on the phone. I install software. I add printers. I deploy packages and scripts. I configure email. I do much more than what I have listed here but all we are really left with in the end is a summary of what we do and did. Maybe my work isn’t as physically challenging as it used to be and I get some time to sit down. Even so, I am still somebody who labors for a living to this day. In many respects I couldn’t imagine a better fate. The laboring class is the best class in the world. That’s the way it has always been, is now, and will ever be. My work continues.
Today, January 1, 2015, I am a laborer.