Word from the Range, The Working Class

If you watch any of the campaign hype on TV, you’re bound to hear someone talk about what they plan to do for the working class American. I get the impression that the candidates view themselves as a cut above those of us who do honest work for our bread and butter; that without their programs we have no hope of a successful life. I beg to differ. We don’t need rescuing, and we can make our own success.

Of course there are naysayers among us, folks who complain about how spoiled and lazy our young people are. If that be true of a few, then the adults in their lives are to blame for robbing them of one of the most valuable components of life—pride in a job well done.

Recently, while shopping in Valentine, I encountered some young workers who convinced me that our world is in a lot better shape than we have been led to believe.

I stopped to get lunch at the drive in. The car hop—and yes, there are still places where you get curbside service—was a young man who surely was still in elementary school. He was eager to please, repeated my order back to me, thanked me, and counted back change correctly. I made sure to compliment him on his service and leave a generous tip.

Fortified in body and mind, I continued on to the Sunshine Greenhouse for some plants to fill in the flower beds that had languished during our cold wet spring, and was met by a young lady of perhaps six years old, who inquired if I needed help finding anything. I said I would look around, and let her know if I had any questions. A couple of times during my wandering, she and her sister, probably a couple of years older, came by to ask if I was finding what I needed. They explained the different varieties of geraniums, helped me locate the pansy section, carried my plants to the counter, and helped their grandmother check me out. You can bet I gave them plenty of praise for their helpfulness, and complimented Grandma too.

Last week, a friend proudly announced that her grandkids had all gone out and gotten summer jobs. I ask you, does this sound like a culture that needs the condescension of the elite to make our way in the world? Granted, we are a rural people, and the situation in cities may be otherwise, but I maintain that our leaders do no one any favors by projecting a ‘poor you,” attitude.

Kids want to help. Remember when your child begged to wash the dishes and splashed water all over the floor, and herself? I hope you let her help, and taught her to clean up afterward. She and her brother probably pleaded to mow the lawn before they were old enough to do it safely, but how proud they were of the somewhat ragged job they did the first time they were allowed.

Never mind that as teenagers they prefer hanging out at the mall or swimming pool. Require them to do the chores first, and say thanks for helping. Have them find summer jobs, save for college, and buy some of their school clothes. Show them you’re proud to be part of the working class by doing your best at your job, and treating others with respect. If we want a better world we have to start building it, and our kids can be part of that.