The hands are quicker

No matter how many books you’ve read, and no matter how many degrees and certificates you have on your wall, never, never, never think that gives you standing to consider yourself better than people who work with their hands.



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4 Responses to “The hands are quicker”

  1. Decker Says:

    Truly wonderful. Thank you for sharing – and your lead-in sums it all up perfecctly!


  2. Benjamin David Steele Says:

    I’m not a skilled worker. I’ve done entry level jobs all of my life, all of which require manual labor of one sort or another. For what it is worth, I am a fast worker, far faster than my coworkers, even if working fast as a cashier is less impressive than some lines of work. Customers have, on occasion, mentioned to me how fast I work. My hands can move faster than my computerized cash register operates. I’m sort of like John Henry (of the ballad fame) working on the railroad, in similarly getting close to being made obsolete by technology.

    I do take some pride in my manual dexterity, the same ability that gives me talent in juggling, etc. You should see me twirl a credit card between my fingers, a completely pointless activity that I do for my own entertainment. And I can double-wrap a rubber band around a stack of ramp tickets in a fraction of a second, quicker than the eye can see. But these days at work, I typically slow myself down on purpose since there is no great advantage to going at top speed. All I’m likely to accomplish is causing myself carpal tunnel syndrome.

    All of my friends also work physical jobs, even those with college degrees. My closest friend has a degree in religious studies (after switching from a major in English) and yet ended up as a talented baker, a job he has worked for almost a couple of decades at this point. He was a gymnast as a kid and he is quite strong, which is helpful in lifting and moving around large bags of flour and heavy bowls of dough. I have another friend with an architectural degree who is a bus driver. Neither job requires speed exactly, but my baker friend talks about regularly having to do the work of several people because they’ve been short-staffed for years.

    My second oldest brother, after decades doing low-level work operating a machine at a testing center, finally went back to school and got a two-year degree. He is now in horticulture, but basically is still working a manual labor job in the local city parks and recreation department. Instead of using his hands with a machine inside a building, he uses his hands sometimes with machines outside (e.g., operating a chainsaw). That is when he isn’t simply digging holes with a shovel or pulling up weeds. I couldn’t say how fast he works, though.

    To add to your thought, I wouldn’t assume that the manual laborer you see working isn’t well-educated and/or well-read. Besides college degrees, my friends are all intellectuals who read books. I too, of course, love to read books and I often do so at work — one of the perks of being a cashier sitting in a booth. One of my motivations for working at top speed in the past was to quickly knock out a long line of cars, thus allowing more time to read. My baker friend and I both enjoy writing as well, both with college-educated parents and professors in the family.

    I live in a college town where a large proportion of the working class is either in college or already graduated, one of the most densely educated populations in the country. These days, the phenomenon of the over-educated working class is becoming ever more common. Many Millennials with college degrees are having difficulty in finding good work and often have to turn to work that is far below their educational level. For an odd reason, I find that as almost a source of hope. I wish the entire population was over-educated, even the garbage collectors and janitors, the latter being the work I did for many years before my present cushy job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paintedjaguar Says:

      I’m moved to point out that a credential is not the same thing as an education. It’s unfortunate that American business has worked to turn colleges into HR sorting mechanisms.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. paintedjaguar Says:

    I’ve been saying for a long time that to be a skilled general handyman requires a breadth and depth of knowledge at least equal to that of a physician.

    Liked by 1 person

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