Mike Rowe’s Advice on Working Both Smart AND Hard and My Disagreements With This From the Commenters of the Article

I was originally going to write a post about why the third book in The Stars Trilogy will probably have to be delayed and may not come out until 2016 or whatever (MAYBE 2015…MAYBE), but I found this post by Mike Rowe and decided to write a response to it, especially because of the disconcerting comments below, mostly that millennials are lazy. But who are working your minimum wage jobs? Millenials. So that argument is done with, because we do need people to work minimum wage jobs.

Basically, the entire premise of the article is that we’ve been told our whole lives to work smarter, not harder. Mike Rowe, on the other hand, believes we should work both smart and hard and that physical labor jobs are in dire need of young people like me who went to college, took out massive loans, found themselves unemployed and in debt. I am privileged enough to have parents who are paying for my college. Very privileged, and I acknowledge this, but I do work hard to ensure their money doesn’t go to waste. So I do agree with Mike’s points. What I don’t agree on is that ALL OF US are cut out for manual labor jobs. I have accepted the reality that all of us can’t do anything we want to do, and that includes the jobs Mike is pushing. I wanted to be a zoologist, but chemistry basically killed that dream because it was so difficult for me to learn and understand, and I knew it’d only get worse in college. Was I upset? No, because I’d be even more upset trying to take classes that would burst my stress threshold. Plus, my friend across the street wanted to be a pediatric doctor, but she worked her butt off in college, struggled with science classes, and did not get the GPA necessary to go on to med school. So she trained to be a physician’s assistant instead. I think she’ll be happier doing that than struggling through med school.

The first “job” I ever had was volunteering at a horse stable, hoping to work myself up into getting to an actual job there because I wasuntitled (7) not yet sixteen and so couldn’t legally work. However, the hierarchy of the job was ridiculous. I had been volunteering for two years, but new hires, who had no experience with horses, were basically allowed to tell me what to do, even though I sometimes had to step in and tell them they weren’t doing the job right. When I was old enough for the job, I applied, but never was offered a job, even though I had a good reputation there, and other people, with no experience, were getting hired ahead of me. I ultimately quit because, quite literally, the boss was having some sort of breakdown and taking it out on all of her volunteers by forcing us to work harder than the staff members, who could laze around and still get paid. For example, I was shoveling bedding for the horses into trash bags with three other people. Finding the pitchfork ineffective, I decided to sit down amongst the shavings and just use my arms to fill the bags. A staff member walked by and saw all of us sitting (one staff member actually sleeping, the other volunteer trying to help), and reported us for not doing our job. Here was the boss’s logic: the volunteer and I had to be sent home because we weren’t doing our job, but the staff member didn’t get in trouble because well, she was a staff member, and could do whatever she wanted, when she didn’t help out. Again, she just slept while I was doing most of the work. I had filled ten bags, but I wasn’t even allowed to explain my side of the story. So. True story.

Would I be able to do a job like that now? No. I have a chronic pain illness (fibromyalgia, which is mostly mild, but I do get flares from time-to-time that put it in the moderate status, if, for example, I stand for a long time), one that cripples me, even at my own job. I currently work as a marketing trainee, which can get boring at times, but, from time to time, I do love the job because of the people, my co-workers, and the customers I get to meet. Unlike fast food jobs, I can take the time to get to know the customers, especially if they’re not in a hurry. I’ve also met amazing regulars at the mall who are freaking awesome. And honestly, it is not a job I would mind working at for the rest of my life while doing freelance jobs (I am doing my best to care about making sales now, because my other co-workers have been successful at it, so why can’t I?). I have met very, very few rude people at my job. Sure, they’ll insult the giveaway–but they aren’t rude to me–but I’m so used to it that their insults make me laugh. But, overall, the people I’ve met are very polite, and I’ve learned that a smile from me goes a long way in changing a person’s attitude, and you don’t see a lot of workers at fast food restaurants smiling, now do you? Seriously, a smile can make a HUGE difference.

pain-cycleIn any case, I’ve mostly been doing the mall, and even there I have to sit a bunch of times because within ten minutes of standing, my lower back will start to tighten, as will my hips and groin; the permanent trigger points in my calves will start to tighten all the muscles there, reminding my left knee that it had been sprained at one point; and everything else will follow, from my neck to my upper back, and then I’ll develop a tension headache if I do not sit. So I sit down. A bunch of times. I even have to be careful about what I wear. My slacks can hurt my hips, as do tights, and even skirts with elastic bands. It’s bizarre. So do you really think I would be cut out doing the job of a mechanic, or a plumber, or some other manual labor job? Probably not. Plus, it’s not what I want to do. Quite frankly, I would be miserable. I don’t want to be miserable just to make a lot of money. Mike Rowe posits that those jobs would be rewarding, and maybe they would if I gave them a try, but how can they be rewarding if they would ultimately put me in a lot of pain? Plus, Mike Rowe, who does seem like a great person, acts like earning a lot of money will ultimately bring us happiness. Sure, money pays the bills and allows us to do stuff, but I don’t want to earn money to buy material possessions. I want to earn money to help my fiancé pay the bills, get me insurance so I can keep taking my bipolar meds, buy some groceries, while having enough left for myself to do some ballet–which helps my fibromyalgia, and my rheumatologist said that without my ballet, but fibro would be a lot worse. That’s it. I don’t care about buying some fancy house or car (I would like a car like my mom’s because it’s both affordable with great gas mileage, and I would need one to take me places) or living in some swanky subdivision or doing all these other things that money mongers want to do, that the “American Dream” says we all should do A, B, and C, and that will bring us happiness. Ideas of happiness are subjective for everyone, and making tons of money to put me in the rich status is not. I was fed that Republican crap in high school, that hard work will earn you anything and everything you want–I don’t consider myself a Democrat, just to put that out there. I loved my US Affairs teacher, but I didn’t agree with everything he said–even though I agreed with MOST of what he said.

So here’s where things get a little tricky for me. I am transferring to an online college called Columbia of Missouri, which does have untitled (8)several campuses. Why am I making this move? Quite simply, I do not want to be a teacher. I am passionate about education itself. I think it’d actually be great to work at the CCBOE (Columbia County Board of Education), because you don’t have to have a teaching degree, but I think I have enough knowledge to be able to tell bureaucrats (and that’s what they are) that this is not how we should be treating education because we need to think about the children, and bureaucrats aren’t doing that. So because education is run by bureaucrats, I know I’d be miserable as a teacher. Also, if I went back to my English degree, I would have to take one more year of French, and I have been away from French for one and a half years. I took it before, but that class was the straw that broke the camel’s back and was a huge factor in my first hospitalization. I don’t think I could go back to that class and be able to pass it, because I’d pretty much have to study French all over again to catch up to it.

The online college does not require that amount of foreign language. I desperately wanted to major in creative writing because you could take two internship classes, gaining experience in publishing, but, unfortunately, that is only offered to campus students. So I am stuck having to major in what is ultimately a useless degree; however, I think I can take technical writing and editing classes, so I’m going to try to take advantage of the useful classes, not the useless ones. I love literature, don’t get me wrong, but it’s useless. Plain freaking useless, unless you plan on getting your masters and teaching it at the college level. I don’t want to sink myself into debt. Oh certainly I know I would love teaching at the college level, but I would have to write and publish essays related to my field, and, let’s be honest, I don’t give a crap about writing literary analyses papers, even though I am good at it.

But, to me, you should get a job in what you’re best at. Mike Rowe acts like we can all become competent in the field of manual labor. If we ALL got jobs in that field, then, well, you know where the country would be headed. Manual labor jobs are important. I don’t understand why they are looked down upon, but to assume that we’re all capable of it is like saying we’re all capable of going on to be doctors if we tried our darned hardest.

I am good with words. English has always been my best subject. I want to do something that involves words. I plan to be a freelance tutor, editor, and writer, and I also hope to stay with Southern Siding, even if it’s just eight hours a week (because, hey, those eight hours a week can afford me my ballet tuition, and perhaps I can pull sales out of those 8 hours alone. I am actually aspiring to be hired by them now). But, quite honestly, I am unsure about my future. At the least, right now, I will need to do something that can help me pay for car insurance, gas, possibly payment on a new car, and medical insurance. But, of course, I’ll probably be seeking some sort of editing job as well (my friend found one on an English degree, so why can’t I? I have the experience for it). I mean, there are many possible things for me, even with an arguably useless degree.

I think the ultimate problem is not that the degrees college students are getting are useless. I just think the problem is that there are no internships required in colleges that can help students develop the necessary skills to find a job in their field or something closely related. One of the degrees a commenter says is useless is anthropology. Is it really? Anthropologists’ jobs are to help us understand how the rest of the world lives to show us that just because someone lives a lifestyle we consider bizarre does not make our lifestyle superior. And these anthropologists put themselves among those conditions, people who are so used to our lifestyle. But they do it for the love of people and the desire to teach us about different cultures around the world. Now, to me, that is a pretty cool job.

I will write a post on the third book in The Stars Trilogy, as well as posting two interviews of authors I’ve done and a guest post someone has done. However, from here on out, I am no longer accepting interviews from other writers because that requires work on my part, not when literally every minute of the day needs to be used for my own productivity. Guest posts are fine, because all they require from me is a copy and paste.

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Author:

Also known as The Dancing Writer, she is currently working on The Stars Trilogy, among other works.

One thought on “Mike Rowe’s Advice on Working Both Smart AND Hard and My Disagreements With This From the Commenters of the Article

  1. Great post Amber and you made a lot of excellent points. I really enjoyed reading it. My week would have been more hellish than it already was with out a few manual laborers (plumbers to be exact). I think what Mike Rowe is trying to do is let kids today know that it’s ok, that they’re ok, if they don’t want to go to college. That they can find a field they’d enjoy and be good at and still be able to earn a living. I didn’t feel anything with regards to making a lot of money. His point, as you stated was to not drown in debt getting an education you won’t use – and perhaps going the vocational route after to get the job you could’ve gotten to begin with.

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