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Pay a Compliment

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!)

Comments (4)


Hey, that could by MY unmotivated teenager you're talking about! Just kidding, she doesn't work at a grocery store! :)

I dislike the commercialism of Valentine's Day also...all I did to celebrate was to give my daughters a hug and some kissies (which they put up with to a point and then said Ok, mum, that's enough...)

I didn't know you were from Norway - my husband's great-grandfather immigrated to Canada from Norway. Many people think he and my daughter are of Irish heritage because of their red hair, but it's Viking red all the way!


Chiocciola, this is so well said!

This is SUCH an awesome post. I think you are wise beyond your 30 years!

It hits home for me because my grandfather (who was blue collar all the way) moved to Baltimore in 1960 because he couldn't find a decent job in rural North Carolina. I don't know if he had job satisfaction or not (probably not) but he did get tremendous satisfaction from supporting his family and making sure that all four of his kids went to college.

I didn't know you were from Norway either - maybe you can write a bio for us?

Thank you, friends, for your sweet comments!

Anne, that is interesting about your husband and daughter's hair - we really don't have that many people with that coloring but we do have some.

Annie, that is cool about your grandfather! The more I write the more I find people with connections to Baltimore.

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