Roll Up Your Sleeves and Work

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison

Growing up one didn’t aspire to become a garbage man or a maid. These positions were considered a lower form of service to mankind as compared to the esteemed positions of doctor, lawyer, or politician.

I’ve worked for a cleaning service. As compared to a politician, there’s more dignity and service to mankind in cleaning a toilet.

Last week my Mom received a political statement with a survey attached.

“I’m pis…really mad.” Mom said.

“Why?” I asked.

“The survey was a sham. They didn’t really want my opinion. To think a grown man sent me a letter in which he whined that the other political party wasn’t doing anything. If you have time to whine, you’re not accomplishing anything either. I’d fire the whole lot of them.”

Whining and finger pointing didn’t cut it in our house. When arguments broke out between siblings both parties knew they would be found guilty of something. We also knew to knock it off and to go make ourselves useful or my parents would give us something to whine about.

“They wanted thirty-five dollars of your mother’s money.” Dad said.

“Did you get a survey too?”

“Nope, they snubbed me. Bunch of crap, the politicians are trying to woo the women to their corner. That’s not so bright. Your mother’s the harder sale.”

Dad’s right. He may have lined up the jobs for us kids, but it was Mom who stood as boss and made us get our chores done. She took no excuses except for barf or blood. And the blood had to come gushing from a gaping wound to get out of work.

“The money politicians spent on that garbage could’ve been used to alleviate hunger. You do know we have hungry children in our country, in America?”

I’ve volunteered at the food kitchen. Many people are one personal disaster away from trading places from behind the counter to the line in front. Not all the people in line are unemployed either. I overheard one man say he worked two minimum wage jobs and his wife worked too. They’d do okay without the weekly box of groceries if they had a canary instead of kids.

Only in America does a position at your local fast food joint trump a senator in respect for their service to the public.

“I’m tired of all the bellyaching our leaders do.” Mom said.

“Our leaders should get paid what they’re worth. That’d free up money for veterans benefits, schools, saving endangered species, and free health care for everyone.” Dad said.

“If they’d only work together.”

“If they’d only work,” Dad said

Government leaders should have grown up working with their siblings like I had to. Try working with the sister who borrowed the new shirt you didn’t wear yet and who spilled iced tea down the front of it.

My parents knew it was hard to choke someone when your hands were busy pulling weeds from the garden. Weeding was hard work. You had to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. There was sweat which made you dirtier.

You worked quickly and efficiently because you didn’t want the cute boy next door to see you filthy and stinky.

But one day he did and came over to help you. So you gardened without being told. Your parents bought you a new shirt because you worked hard and deserved it. Then the cabbage you nurtured won a prize at the fair. With the prize money, you bought new jeans to wear on your date with neighbor boy. He asked you to go to the movies because he liked a girl who wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. You eventually married and became taxpayers then raised a family who became taxpayers too.

If a kid could accomplish a good life with hard work, can you imagine how great our world would be if the adults who ran it worked?

Hard work: How my parents kept their brood from becoming inmates and made us productive citizens.

Next Election Day I’m writing my parents names on the ballot. Barf and blood will be the only excuses for not getting your job done.

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