Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Thinkin'

"We all belong one to another. That's the way God made us. Christ died to keep us that way. Our sin is only and always that we put asunder what God has joined together."
       --William Sloane Coffin, in Credo

Labor Day—more than just a holiday. It ought to be a time when we stop and praise all those wonderful people that keep us going. What would we do without all the service people and all the repairmen and those who serve our food or cook in some restaurant behind closed doors? So many of these people we never see. But if they were not there—we would know it mighty soon.

I guess what got me to thinking about this is the painting of our kitchen cabinets. My wife wants white cabinets. We bought a house with dark wood cabinets. So we have been
wrangling now for about a year about painting what looked pretty nice to me. Well, I finally gave in and guess what—they are going to look wonderful. But this wouldn’t take place without the man who has spent most of last week (excluding Saturdays and Sundays)—and then part of this week—doing all the prep work, dismantling doors, getting the paint and working hard to make sure we liked the job he is doing. He came to this country from Mexico when he was fourteen years old. He and his family came here like so many of our ancestors—seeking a better life. (The immigration opponents forget our history and the humanity of those that are here.) His wife is going to college to finish an accounting degree. He has two teen-agers whom he loves fiercely. And he has worked around rain which oil paint doesn’t particularly like—and our living in the house while all this was going on. We have tried to stay out of his way—but I am sure that we have complicated the painting situation. And when he has done he will fold up the drop cloths and clean up his paintbrushes and head out to yet another job. We’ll probably never see him again. Yet—he has left behind splendid work and my very happy wife. But guess what: he is just like the rest of us with hopes and dreams for himself and his family. We need to quit demonizing folk. 

I also think of the friend who built the bookcases for my office. The first week we had moved in he visited and I was bemoaning the fact that I did not have enough bookcases and he volunteered to build what I needed. A week later he called and said the bookcases were ready and he wanted to deliver them.  I don’t know what I would have done without that man who came to my rescue in a time of need.

Ever had a computer problem? Of course you have. I have in my address book the name of Dave that has come to my rescue I don’t know how many times. He has never failed to fix my computer problems. He comes when needed and always does a fine job.

I could go on an on. The waitresses at the Breakfast group I am part of every Thursday morning. They take our orders and get them right and deliver them on time and help with whatever we need to make breakfast better. I know they don’t make enough. I know the tips often are not as much as they should be. But we all owe a great debt to all those who serve us.

They fix our cars, they answer our questions at the drug store, they clip our shrubbery and every Tuesday morning somebody on a big green truck takes away our garbage. We know that must be hard, hard work. I could go on and on. But I won’t.

Sometimes we writer to ourselves, we writers. And on this Labor Day I stop just a few moments and remember those who help keep me and mine going. Be sensitive, treat them with great respect. Back of those smiles or sulks some of them are having a pretty tough time. I keep remembering that quotation: "Be kind, everyone you know is fighting a hard battle." I hope that when this holiday ends I will remember those who make my life better by their doing.

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