When I was a young guy working my way through school and a young dumb life, I laboured in many factories and trade areas in which there was little if any political correctness. This is an arena where the common man and woman spend a third or more of their entire lives. The majority of human kind. This is their home-away-from-home. Even less than in their actual homes, do they curtail their language or their opinions in their workplace. This was one of the biggest shocks that I have received in my life...before or since.
After having secured my first summer factory job before my first year of college...a manual labor, unskilled position, I was given training. This training began with a little introductory meeting in a dirty factory office above the manufacturing floor, by the manager of my part of the plant. He began his little talk by saying: " When you are working down there, keep one thing in mind at all times...keep your fucking hands outta the fucking machines!"
I stood in awe of his bluntness. I had never heard an adult use that kind of language...I must truly be a man now...this must be what real adulthood means. To be able to express yourself in colorful language like this. To be able to drive home a point...damn the consequences...by using carefully placed profanity. COOL!
Well, of course I learned that is the way working people talk...less so than they used to, but it is still as pragmatic as it was then.
I also mentioned opinions that are expressed in the workplace. These are of a different color. And when I refer to color...I am speaking of the Caucasian factory worker. This opining is generally rooted in the same pragmatism, but is much less instructive and usually mean-spirited. The invectives "nigger" and "spic" were (or were much more, then) thrown around with a very casual abandon over the drone of the machines. This taught me a lot about human nature as I either endured these racial slurs or spoke up to them. When I endured them, I saw the fear and the pride from which they came. Fear that someone unlike themselves were threatening everything that they held to be true and good, and pride of being above another fellow human, simply because of skin-color or origin. When I spoke up to them, I identified myself as an outsider...a college boy, here for the summer only.
The racial balance in the workplace has so changed over the years in amerika that the racial slurs are almost never heard. Political correctness...or I should again refer to pragmatism...has all but erased this vocal prejudice. However, most of the feelings are still there.
I feel I can write about such things for two reasons. Firstly, I experienced this first-hand as a youth. And of the things this experience taught me was the fact that this imprisonment in the manufacturing life was not something I wished to do for very long and it kept my ambition level high enough to escape it. I quickly longed for the white-collar job in lieu of the physically and mentally exhausting existence of the factory worker. And I triumphed in my efforts. I soon became the guy in the office downtown, far away from the stench of the assembly plant.
But that aside, there was something that always fascinated me about the unskilled laborer and his language and opinions. They are true grass-roots. The people that live and work and die for the industrialists. Noble characters indeed...these workers.
Anyway, the second reason that I feel qualified to comment on this subject is that I returned. Well, not to the factory...but a blue-collar job nonetheless. After I retired I got a part-time night job. I needed to work...that is something they get you hooked on...that idea that you aren't worth your salt unless you do some mindless tasks for money. But what was chief in my selection of said retirement employment, was a job about which I did NOT have to care. Care about production schedules, quality reports, deadlines...etc. Too many years caring about all that shit, thank you very much. I just wanted a job I could leave at the workplace...didn't have to bring home with me. I got it. And strangely enough, the same people are still working there. I mean the same pragmatic slaves. Kind of reassuring in a way. Kind of sad in another. Oh well.
There are not as many racial slurs being thrown around nowadays. Now pockets of Caucasian workers catch themselves when they almost utter one. That's a good thing. But one thing amazes me in this slightly changed area. These white worker-bees are now so sensitive to the feelings of there fellow Mexican, or Black,or Asian workers that they are very careful not to mention their own particular prejudices, for fear that the target of their bigotry might be within earshot.
But NO one mentions jews.
Funny that. These people would never be within earshot of the judaic. As we all know that generally speaking...jews are NOT in the real workplace. I have "worked" shoulder-to-shoulder with probably most all cultures and races of this world, but never "with" a jew. FOR them, yes. But never alongside them in labor. In the blue-collar world however one certainly couldn't offend a hebrew by stating: "yeah, Bob...another day, another dollar for the jew", for instance. Or "Say, Linda...you ever notice that we all seem to work for jews?"
Along with the much needed racial sensitivity the amerikan blue-collar worker has taken on his mantle, he has also learned never to defame the ashkanazi for whom he slaves. Blame the media to which he is also enslaved...perhaps... this just strikes me funny. But what do I know...I'm just working for a living. Again.