Fruits of Your Labor

Manual labor. The term is a trifle confusing for me. I understand the labor part well enough but isn’t the manual a bit redundant? I’ve never heard of anyone saying mind labor, or head labor. That’s called thinking. Being a geek I’ve read a lot of manuals and I can say that some were quite laborious, but somehow it’s not the same. Is it maybe to differentiate manual type labor from giving birth type labor? I’ve seen childbirth first hand. If it’s not manual labor than nothing is! From this point on we will simply call it labor.

What is labor? Labor is not doing something hard. It can be labor but it doesn’t always have to be. As Mark Twain demonstrates in Tom Sawyer a person will do labor if he believes it to be fun. Because of this truth Tom’s friends pay him to whitewash his fence. If this same job was called ‘work’ nothing would get a body to do it cheerfully.

I spent an afternoon running myself to exhaustion chasing and throwing a Frisbee. If some muscle headed coach in Phys Ed would have planned that same activity I would have been muttering curses on him and his lineage the whole period. This is a simple truth and I will go so far to say that I believe we have all experienced it.

So I ask you again, What is labor? Labor is easily defined.

You go outside believing you are going to spend an hour cutting back a bush in front of your house and throwing the leaves and branches into a trash can. You then perceive yourself back inside with John Wayne for the rest of the day.

When after the first thirty minutes of sheering you discover that the ugly squatty bush in front of your house is actually anchored to the ground with a root system that is making the oak tree green with envy. In another hour of digging sawing and prying you have made zero progress. You've pulled out your entire entourage of equipment, from sawsall to framing hammer. Your feeling rather like the losing side in a battle of wits.

You tie one end of your only rope to the root and attach the other end to your only truck. After one minute without motion the rope snaps. You go to the local hardware store and buy a stronger rope. Once tied off in a similar fashion to the first rope, you again try the truck tug. The bumper on your truck begins to dislodge itself from your truck. The sound brings out your spouse. You lie and say 'everything's fine.'

You buy a pry bar, and for two hours have the unbridled joy of rotating between bashing the root with a twelve pound iron rod, and hacking at it with your grandfather’s authentic Saudi Arabian machete.

When the root is removed you collapse on the lawn. You’re now completely unfit to breath, eat, or drink. Congratulations, you have just completed labor.


Jeremy said...

Could labor be defined as moving a garbage barrel and wrenching your back out so bad you had to go to the ER for morphine? Or is that just being a pansy?

Word Verification: gzngbix - the sound my back made when it went out.

J Crew said...

I would call that horrific labor.

Brian said...

I love Labor (Work).....I could watch it all day!!!

kludge said...


I heard about your trouble this morning... I don't think your a pansy. Sorry about that, it sounded very painful.

Word Verification: bveoz - Sound your credit card made as they billed you in the emergency room.

kludge said...


I'm with you! That's why I chose white collar. I'd rather be stressed than in pain.

Joshua P. Allem said...

I've never thought of that? I just accepted it. That's nothing like me. But when I just hear the words 'Manual Labor' I can feel the pain. It's what I do in the yard every Friday evening so the grass doesn't over grow. The work itself isn't all that hard, but I live in Texas. The summer heat down here KILLS people.

Anomie-Atlanta said...

I eliminated my problem shrubbery by using a saw to cut it to the ground, covering the stump in roundup, and placing a lawn sculpture over the stump. I still have to trim and poison every two months or so...