With Labor Day weekend just ahead, we tend to think a little more than usual perhaps about the nature of work and the men and women of America who do it, especially those who do actual, physical labor.
My first exposure to real work was picking potatoes for an area farmer on the edge of town, the town being Hillsboro, N.D. I believe I was still a pre-teenager when I spent an entire Saturday afternoon picking spuds by hand, for which I earned the princely sum of $5. As an undocumented laborer, I was paid in cash. Even then I thought I deserved more. I also earned a sore back.
Occasional farm work during high school and college brought in a little more cash. Farm work, I learned, isn’t so much back-breaking always as it is time-consuming. I spent many long, long hours on the tractor. And this was before sound systems in comfort cabs. But don’t cry for me, North Dakota. I learned something. There’s work, and then there’s work.
As the legendary Tony Bennett has often said, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. For me, broadcasting has been like that. I could do without the work nights, weekends and holidays. I could also live without the office politics. But I’ve always loved the “work” itself. So much so, I like to call broadcasting high school with a paycheck.
Now as I flit from gig to gig, these days I choose my work carefully. Less for the money, more for the satisfaction I get out of it. More for the fun of it.
Fun or not, for most of us, work is an important part of our lives. As (the also legendary) Chuck Haga told me for a television story very much like this one many Labor Days ago, all work is honorable. I always liked that thought.