In honor of Labor Day, I want to speak of jobs that Americans supposedly won’t do. Experts could no doubt give you statistics to back this up. I can only give you a single number, one. One person, myself, who’s done several jobs that Americans supposedly won’t do. Hard, dirty jobs said to necessitate the need for illegal immigrant labor. Was I the exception that proved the rule? Was my experience somehow an anomaly? Perhaps I’m not really an American.
My first job was as a dishwasher. I was unskilled, so it was all I could get. It was hard work, not very much fun, but it did provide me with spending money. After that job, I entered the Military where I developed marketable skills. When I came home I had qualifications, but it would be a couple of years before I could land steady work based on them. In the meantime I worked as a landscaper. It was hard, dirty work, depending often on teamwork. It was good summer money that put gas in my first car. Landscaper is a stereotypical job for Mexican migrants. Funny how neither I, nor any of my coworkers at the time were Mexican. I had known of other companies that did hire Central Americans, and by all accounts they are very good workers. The problem it was said, was keeping them busy. If work slowed even a little, they were liable to leave for another company that could keep give them more hours.
Landscaping lead me to my next job, one to provide income during the winter months. It was to clean out vacant houses. That was perhaps the hardest, filthiest work I’ve ever done. You don’t want to know some of the conditions me and my coworkers had to work in at times. My coworkers by the way, were all American. I guess we didn’t get the memo that this sort of work could only be done by migrants or illegal immigrants.
Eventually I was able to find work in a nice air-conditioned office, and for slightly more than minimum wage. I still did some manual labor, but it was nothing compared to the work I had been doing. More and more as my skills and education increased, I found myself working more with my mind and less and less on with my muscles. Those years then, doing jobs that Americans aren’t supposed to want to do served as a bridge to higher paying, more skilled, and less labor intensive work. I guess I must have did it wrong, no one apparently told me I wasn’t supposed to do those low wage, hard labor jobs. No one told me that as an unskilled worker, I might have to start at the bottom. Maybe now things are different, maybe now teens and twenty somethings can skip the low paying jobs and jump right behind a computer, but somehow I don’t think that’s the real world. I suspect that maybe, just maybe, employers can find legal aliens, if not American citizens to fill positions as laborers.
First appeared in Political Storm as: Jobs Americans won’t do?