One of my countless past jobs was at a Christmas tree plantation. Christmas trees are grown and managed with plenty of manual labor. They’re too big for most agricultural equipment (a seven foot spruce will do a job on something like a combine) and too small for most logging equipment (a grapple skidder will do a job on a seven foot spruce). Since climate controlled cabs and hydraulic wizardry couldn’t do what a redneck with a primitive mower and a chainsaw could do; there was a niche for me.
By the way, I was an intermittent college student but unlike modern herds of overeducated meatheads, it never occurred to me to wonder whether I was “overqualified”. Time for a Curmudgeonly Gem of Insight:
“There’s no such thing as overqualified, only ‘I can find a job I prefer more’.”
I didn’t mind the work so I dropped out of school for a while. I was warned that I was “risking” my college “career”. This, of course, is the kind of bullshit uttered by people who are essentially unemployable outside of the academic fishbowl. I made education wait until I was good and ready. (Ironically, working like a rented mule helped me be good and ready when the time came.)
I was just a ground pounder. The boss (who was the nicest guy on earth) pointed to a field (seemingly limitless in size) and explained what he wanted. I got it done. In this game you couldn’t be impatient. Sometimes a specific project would take weeks of hot, dirty, brutal work. It never seemed to end. It wasn’t a sprint, it was a marathon. (The run up to Christmas was different. That was harried and rushed. A short term sprint with plenty of late nights. We worked with gusto. When Santa came we were likely to wind up laid off so we could work balls to the wall for several weeks knowing rest would come in the new year.)
I’m so old I remember when most men did such work (at least in their youth). I’m also so old I remember when they were mostly speaking English when they did it. I don’t know if that would be the case now.
More in the next post.