The Tree Ballet

One of my friends is a vocational expert. We talk about work and jobs and one day we were discussing custodians. He said “oh, that’s laborious, unskilled work.” He means no disrespect; he was just stating facts as the Department of Labor have categorized them. When I’m in a public bathroom, I’m glad there is an “unskilled” man or woman keeping things tidy. If I see the “unskilled” person, I treat them with respect and dignity and I speak to them.

I don’t understand why someone hasn’t figured out how to keep public bathrooms neat and clean without the labor of unskilled men and women, but when I stop at the travel centers on the Maine Turnpike, I can see that this particular progressive invention has not landed on our shores yet. Apparently, public bathroom users themselves have not figured out how to be “neat and clean” in using the facilities, but that’s a completely different blog post.

This weekend, one of our Woodland Avenue neighbors had a giant oak tree cut down. My father measured the stump after they were done; it was over thirty inches across.

The tree crew started the job on Saturday and finished late Sunday afternoon. From our lawn chairs, we had excellent seats for the performance. It was part ballet and part high-wire act. It’s mesmerizing to watch a man with spikes in his boots and a chainsaw on his belt climb a tree and go to work.

Is the work of a “Climbing Arborist” considered laborious, unskilled work? It doesn’t require a college education or an advanced degree. No keyboard strokes or special apps are necessary and no junk bonds are sawed and chipped into AAA exotic bonds.

If I say all work has dignity, do I include the high-finance banker alongside the high-wire climbing arborist? Does all work have dignity?

I don’t have those answers today; I’m just a working stiff with sore muscles from pulling tomato plants.

My thoughts about Labor Day haven’t changed from last year.

My brother had some thoughts about Labor Day.

It’s raining, so I’ll be working inside today. Some of it will be laborious, unskilled work like cleaning my bathroom and mending ripped pants. I might move some digitized paper money around in my checking account and then I’ll write an article for my alumni newsletter, voluntarily.

Labor on.

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6 Responses to The Tree Ballet

  1. My mom always taught us that “any honest work is good work”. I agree

    • I agree; any honest work is good work. The definition of “honest” to some is a problem, but we’ll work through that over time, right? Have a wonderful day, Carol, and thanks for stopping by!

  2. Loosehead Prop says:

    In Italy it is common to enter a restroom and find an older woman fussing with it. There will be a small table near the door, or perhaps in the foyer outside both the men’s and women’s rooms, with a basket for tips. They are rarely, if ever, actually employed by the gas station or restaurant. These women have adopted and kept the toilets clean, and perhaps it was the only work available to them. The authorities look the other way because toilets that have the misfortune to not be adopted are usually completely unusable. The women take home cash, and it would be the height of ingratitude to not tip at least 20 europence; a half-euro is more common, about $.65 at current conversion rates.

    It’s a simple, functional solution to the problem of keeping highway restrooms clean and usable. How far do you think such a solution would get in the USA?

    • I have seen “bathroom attendants” in Las Vegas casinos and larger nightclubs and restaurants. Usually, these women do not clean. They stand guard over a basket of condoms, tampons, and perfume bottles; when I finished washing my hands, they passed me a paper towel. It wasn’t very elegant or tip-worthy, but seemed to have a security role.

      This Italian example you outline is different. It couldn’t happen here, I’m afraid. Too many alphabet agencies would be involved.

  3. says:

    Labor Day (definition) The last day to get to visit Hodgman’s Frozen Custard Stand in New Gloucester, Me. They’ll be open hopefully till 9:30 pm. Hope to See you threre! (Remember it’s almost our duty to support local businesses).
    Slipper-Stitcher Sistah- I only wish I’d known about Talking Books while working at Supreme Slipper those eight years (Man oh, man) Well, better later than never, right! Can listen now, especially while cleaning the bathroom:) I like the Concise Oxford English Dictionary’s first listing for the word: work n. 1 activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result.
    So often people don’t appreciate the work our mother’s have done, and not only the Labor to bring us into the world but the mental and physical effort to keep us here. That it is said, “Oh, she stays home, she doesn’t work” is so very odd and really sad. Motherhood is an on call twenty-fours a day, seven days a week, everyday of the year career. No paid holidays, vacations or sick pay; no double-time or time and a half for over time. Some would say a labor of Love. Thank you to all the mothers around the world- this Labor day!

    • Ah! What a nice twist to the post. I agree, my mother should be retired by now, but she keeps taking care of Herman AND me triple time. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have them over for supper at least once a week when I’m all moved in on The Ridge.

      Ice cream next year!!

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