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Jack’s Mid-Missouri Memories: Work, The Other Four Letter Word

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Work: that other four letter word that is sometimes spoken like an expletive by poor souls who must toil each day just to make ends meet. How we love to hate the idea of work, but I have never seen a person who was not gainfully employed that I thought was really happy.

I looked up work in the dictionary and it said it was “exertion to produce or accomplish something.” The exertion can be physical or mental, and depending on whom you ask, one is much more taxing then the other. I having been on both sides of that argument and have argued both ways on which one is the hardest. I guess we all want everyone to believe we work harder than they do.

As children, we watched Mom and Dad go off to do that glamorous thing called work and bring home all that money that compared to our small allowance was enormous, and even though they complained, it was obvious that there was enjoyment and some satisfaction connected with the word. Some work today is hard, I know, but when the men of my youth talked about a workday, they weren’t talking about an 8-hour day; most of the time it was a 12-hour day.

My dad was an iceman in the summer and a coalman in the winter. He shoveled the coal by hand back then, and it was hard dirty work. When dad died and mom went to work at Lamy’s, she worked with a hand punch and rivet tool. There were not many jobs a man or woman could do back then that did not break them down early in life.

The thing I remember about both my parents and the other hard working people of those days is that they might have been tired, but they were happy and proud to be working. There are excuses for not working of course like age or physical or mental handicaps, but you can see examples everywhere of people who do not allow those things to keep them from going out to work.

I always thought the best thing in the world would be when I did not have to go to work every day, but to tell you the truth, I would probably drive my wife crazy if I didn’t get out of the house. I guess what I am trying to say is that retirement is a choice I will have to make someday, but that day is in the distant future as long as someone will hire me. Work, the other four letter word, is something I learned from my parents is necessary for a happy life.

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