Hard work, honest work

We are having our sidewalk replaced.  It’s a job I considered doing on my own, and then I remembered that I am 58 years old, and sidewalk replacement, on my own, would not be a real good idea.


We hired a concrete contractor to do the work for us, and they have been hard at it for a couple weeks now.  Ours is not the only job they have, so they aren’t here 8 hours a day.  When they are here, it is all business.  They work in the cold and snow, kneeling in the mud while setting forms, moving huge blocks of broken concrete, and then today, when the poured the concrete, they moved that stuff around like it was water.

If you’ve ever had a chance to move concrete with a shovel, you can appreciate that last statement.  It’s indescribably heavy, and it takes some real strength and stamina to push it around.  Not only did they put it on the ground today, but they finished it as well. It takes a lot of skill to finish concrete well, and these guys did that.

That would be Marcello on the chute and randy on the rake.  Nice men, and really hard working.

Somehow as a people we have shown less appreciation for hard, physical labor.  The politicians talk about giving people a free college education, which means there will be fewer people like Marcello and Randy to do this kind of labor that is so very necessary.  I am personally very grateful to them for the sweat of their brow and their cheerful demeanor.

I was a teacher at a Catholic school a long time ago, making a wage that was a long way below what was necessary to raise a family.  I worked summers for a construction company driving dump trucks, semis and concrete mixers.  I loved the work, mainly because I felt like a kid playing with very big toys.  Their is great satisfaction in seeing one’s work to completion, and then being able to see it for years to come.  Every time I stop at the rest area in Chugwater, I think to myself “I helped build this.”

I carried a Rosary with me when I drove those trucks, and it had a wonderful effect on people.  I would walk into the batch room, the place where we got our assignments for the day, and it would be filled with men drinking coffee, smoking and cursing up a storm.  Upon my entrance, people cleaned up their language and stood up a little straighter.

There was a crew that was building foundations for a housing project where I was frequently sent.  I got to know them pretty well over the course of a summer, and I thought they were different than other concrete crews because they were always cheerful and didn’t curse.  They were all Mexican, too, and they saw the Rosary and told me they thought it was great that I carried it with me.

I found out later from one of the other drivers that they did, in fact, curse, and they were just like any other crew.  They changed their behavior when I showed up because they thought I was a priest trying to earn some extra money. Little did they know that I was just a young Catholic school teacher trying to make ends meet.  I was pleased that I could bring them a little evangelism and peace in their day.  I’m just glad they never asked me to hear their confessions.

I love hard, physical labor, and I appreciate those who engage in it.  Randy and Marcello are pros, and I admire their skills.

Thanks be to God for those people who toil for the benefit of all.  May He bless them always.

Hard work


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