I’m not sure when it happened. That being able to produce a certificate of some kind proved you had a “skill.” Even if it was just a class at the local community college on how to check groceries. That always got to me, especially after everything was computerized. What’s to check? You run the bar codes, check the produce book if there’s a problem and bag the blasted things. Hell, they even put cute little stickers on all the apples, pears and oranges. I’d wonder how much that costs but there’s probably a machine for that too.
That little certificate didn't guarantee that you'd be able to put up with the crap the public loves to dish out. Most of them wouldn't last a week at the jobs. People skills are something that can't be taught, it 's something you learn. Sink or swim. That's what I liked about that little bakery in the mall. The chances were pretty good that even if somebody was mad at us they probably wouldn't try to jump over the dry case. With the push to be able to take a gun anywhere you damn please I'm not so sure about that anymore.
Back in 1968 the black trash haulers in
Memphis went on strike. On a really rainy day
two black employees weren’t allowed to come into the office out of the rain so
they took refuge in the back of one of the trucks. Something went wrong, the
truck went into compaction mode and the men were killed.
The strikers and their backers asked Martin Luther King to come to
Things went half way wrong almost from the first. There was no prep time. They
were in the middle of planning for the Poor People’s March. The man was just
this side of exhausted. And it was just garbage men for cryin’ out loud. I get
the impression that some of the folks in the movement believed that it just
wasn’t important enough. Especially when he died on that trip.
To be honest, if that bullet hadn’t found him in
Memphis, it would have
found him someplace else. If he didn’t have a target on his back before it was
there once he came out against the war in Vietnam and made the connection that
you can’t get at the roots of poverty for some without digging out those roots
everywhere, for every man, woman and child on the planet.
There aren’t a lot of skills to being a garbage hauler. Back before they automated almost everything the main requirements were a strong back, persistence, a willingness to wade in other people’s shit and pride in doing a good job.
Stop to think for a minute. If all the business schools and all the trash haulers disappeared at the same time who do you think we’d miss first and the most? Yeah, the garbage man. Cooks, trash haulers, the folks who deal with the messes the rest of us make. Not much pay, too little respect from too many people. But, I’ll take the honest garbage man or baker over somebody with a finance degree any day. It wasn’t the cooks that tanked the economy a few years ago.