Saturday, April 27, 2019

Another Piece of Reality

It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. J.K. Rowling (1965-)


Women have readily made advances for equal opportunities, especially in the workplace. Decades ago we would've never thought of the female gender toiling in blue-collar jobs such as firefighter, bus driver, heavy equipment operator or the trades. Their jobs were limited to secretaries, registered nurses, school teachers, cashiers, retail sales and waitresses. In 1960 women entered the workforce in sizeable amounts. In 1967 49% of mothers stayed at home while that number decreased to 29% in 2012.

Years ago women were stereotyped as just mothers and housewives. However, a lot of females worked in factories during World War 2. My mother (R.I.P. and God rest your soul) worked various jobs starting at fifteen years of age and retired as a bookkeeper. My E.A. (Executive Assistant) also started working when she was fifteen and retired as an Accident Benefits Specialist for an insurance company.

Nowadays more than just a few single mothers (and single fathers) are forced to perform double duty. What I mean by that is they're required to take care of their children and work for a living. Sadly the world is cancerous with divorce and there will always be some deadbeat fathers. I do admit some of the monthly child support payments are astronomical but the heart of the matter is "it takes two to tango" and the bottom line is it's the man's responsibility to help pay for some of the child expenses. Sometimes divorced couples will arrive at a mutual agreement for monthly installments from the father.

Years ago friends of mine encountered a nasty divorce. I won't get into details but what I've heard over the years (from extremely reliable sources) the father was contributing very little and sometimes nothing to financially assist his ex-wife and three children. In spite of that, the mother didn't go crying to the government. Instead, she found it within herself to raise her children working exceptionally hard, which included working a lot of extra night and weekend shifts. Over the years she did a magnificent job. I have met her children and I can honestly say they are respectful, courteous and wonderful young adults. Undoubtedly and without question, my friend is an excellent mother. She is a self-respecting individual, nothing less than a complete trooper. I tip my hat to her.

While I was working in the Traffic Department I learned never underestimate a woman regarding her physical abilities. My job was a two-person task. My partner and I would dig large holes so various types of signs would be erected into a steel insert. Once the insert was in the hole we would pour cement to secure it. Other times the job consisted of digging holes to erect signs onto 4"x4" and 6"x6" pressure treated wooden posts. A high majority of the time the digging would consist of breaking the ground with a large pry bar because the dirt was hard as rock.

In late spring, summer students were hired and partnered up with full-time employees. Out of all the student colleagues that worked with me I can honestly say the best co-worker was a twenty-one-year-old female student. It didn't take me long to make the assessment she was a far more superior worker than her male student counterparts. Furthermore, I came to the conclusion she could definitely "take care of herself", she was a black belt judo expert.

In 2001 I worked for the Sanitation Department for the City of Hamilton, Ontario. Putting it simply, I was a garbage man. Two women were included in the full-time complement. Once again, these ladies were excellent workers. I hated every minute of my job. It was very physically challenging, constantly bending over and lifting twenty, thirty and forty pound bags of waste. It was also hard on the knees, arms and back. The continuous stepping up and down from the truck could cause severe discomfort, especially in the knees. It was hard to believe the amount of daily garbage for every truck was anywhere from twenty-one to twenty-five tons. Each individual threw for one hour intervals. There was more than a few times I would throw for the entire shift. Working in the heat, rain, and cold wasn't any picnic either. But what I found to be my ultimate dislike was the monotony. Day in and day out, week in and week out nothing changed. The repetition was overwhelming. My stint only lasted for six months but it was certainly a real eye-opener for me. The experience made me appreciate a refuse collector's job a lot more than I did before and especially the women associated with that department.

Since I retired I have created a good relationship with the folks who pick up our garbage. Every July and a week before Christmas I give them six Coors Light "Tall Boys" cans of beer. They are always grateful for my gift and they always "look after me." I never had given the "Blue Box" folks a token of my appreciation until March 2019. One of the regular employees who pick up our recyclables is female. My E.A. and I call her "Honey". She is extremely petite. You could almost say a gust of wind could very easily pick her up and toss the lady ten feet into the air. I'm guessing her age is in the late twenties or early thirties. "Honey" also has a hang up for body art because she has tattoo sleeves on both arms.

One day my E.A. and I received a chuckle from "Honey." She was throwing and the truck stopped in from of my neighbour's house which had three full blue boxes. She grabbed two of them and emptied the refuse into the back of the truck. When she threw the boxes back onto the lawn the truck proceeded to the next house. "Honey" had a very irate and frustrated look on her face. Within a second she shouted, "Hey, what are you doing?" The driver immediately noticed there was still a full blue box. As he backed up the truck our little blue box girl said in an angry tone, "I only have two hands you know." She emptied the remaining box into the truck and continued on her "cheerful" way.

Whenever I see "Honey" working she usually looks gloomy and unhappy. I'm willing to bet five will get you ten she hates her job. I have total empathy for her. I realize people receive payment for their work and some jobs pay a much higher dollar than minimum wage for unskilled labour. I felt compassion for "Honey" during the freezing rain days we experienced in February 2019. Now you might be saying, what about the other folks who were required to work outside in those conditions, what about them Puritan? True enough. However, the difference was I saw her with my own eyes and maybe I just felt sorry for her because of her size. Or maybe I'm just an old softie. Anyway, two weeks later I gave "Honey" a bottle of red wine and told her how sympathetic I am.


Human nature operates in mysterious ways. At times we misjudge the talent, skill, ability, and determination of many women. There is no denying, numerous women can perform a decent and satisfactory job on tasks that were once labeled as man's work. If the "weaker sex" are willing to forgo the makeup, the traditional nine to five career and get their hands dirty there is a golden window of opportunity for them. Once again, welcome to the real world.

The End

The Harvenut Puritan Project

Puritan will return with "The Dehydrated Wallet."

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