“We Pashtuns love shoes but don’t love the cobbler; we love our scarves and blankets but do not respect the weaver. Manual workers made a great contribution to our society but received no recognition, and this is the reason so many of them joined the Taliban—to finally achieve status and power.”
Whom would you rather see at your door in the middle of the night — Dr. Oz, Gordon Ramsey, Steph Curry or a band of bearded men who can operate power tools in the rain?
While I’d invite any of these fine gentlemen in from the cold, or heat as it may be, it was the bearded men who got our vote this week. Experts like Oz, Ramsey and Curry are a delight in their own arenas, but it’s a utility expert that you want to see when a pole that supports no fewer than 10 electricity, cable TV and phone lines begins to collapse next to your home.
They showed up in the dark, before we even realized there was a problem. They assessed, then convened roaring, beeping behemoths of trucks that shone spotlights into our windows until 1 a.m. We didn’t care, particularly my husband, who almost enjoyed watching the crew efficiently tear out failed supports and manufacture a new system on the spot.
We fully checked out their handiwork this morning. It’s a thing of utilitarian beauty. Those lines aren’t going anywhere.
How ironic is it, then, that we revere expert physicians, chefs and athletes and their kind, but not the people who make our everyday life actually work? The men and women who keep our roads passable, our lights on and our cars running may get decent pay — or not — but they absolutely do not get enough respect in our culture.
And this disconnect starts early. At our local high school, kids — mostly boys — in the industrial/vocational program are referred to by some peers as “the basement kids.” This is partly descriptive. The large classrooms required for such studies are literally in the basement. But, there is a element of disrespect, as well, as if those whom God wired to literally wire something are somehow lesser than those who will someday argue cases in court or dispense pills or write the news.
This, of course, is nonsense, as last night reminded us. We are different, true. But, each of us has a place in this world. Each of us matters. And, when certain kinds of trouble come knocking, it’s the “basement kids” who really rock.