Leslie, one of the Slow Travelers who is blogging for a month, a little while ago suggested a topic on her blog Kaleidoscope:
Blog Prompt: Today is Pay a Compliment Day. Who would you compliment today and why?
I know today is Valentine's Day, but as a European who has not grown up with the tradition, I am not a huge fan of a "holiday" that is mainly about getting us to buy cards. (Norwegian online newspapers are full of the "send your sweetheart a Valentine" - as if it wasn't enough that they have picked up Halloween already.) So I decided to Pay a Compliment instead. I will pay a compliment to the working man and the working woman (I know we are far away from May 1st, but whatever.) To the people who make the wheels turn and who don't get a huge paycheck or a "thank you" for what they do. To those who work at McDonald's, or drive the garbage truck, or do landscaping, or are nurse's aides, or clean dishes in the back of the restaurant.
Sometimes I wonder if we have lost a lot of the respect that society had for doing a good job - whatever that job was. (Since I just turned 30 I have all this wisdom I just need to get out!) I think it is really sad that in many parts of my own country (Norway) and my current home country (the US) certain jobs are looked down upon and if we see, for instance, a middle-aged woman or man working at the food court of a mall, we often think that the person is not successful or fulfilled. Then again, with the wages that such a job pays, it migth be hard to feel successful. I know the world is changing and all that, but I do think it is sad that there are fewer and fewer decent paying jobs for people without a college degree. Working at the port has taught me a lot about pride in one's work and the that there are A LOT of things that college doesn't teach you. While the unions can certainly be too rigid in their rules, I really do respect the cameraderie and the loyalty among the longshoremen and the quality of the work. Without getting too political - you will actually get better quality work if you have decently payed employees who don't view their work as just a place to make a few bucks before swtiching to another job. For another example: how nice is it to buy meat from a butcher who knows his craft, instead of some unmotivated teenager at the supermarket?
Baltimore is definitely the most thoroughly blue collar place I have lived, and I really like it. Many people have lived in Locust Point or Federal Hill for generations, and their families still live close by. A lot of them have ties to the port that goes back years and years. It really provides a sense of community and belonging that many places lack.
So my Valentine's Day Compliment goes to you, working men and women. (And to my boyfriend!)