Blue Collar Life: A Day in the Life of a ‘Cable Repair Guy’

The piece linked below is (for those of us in white-collar jobs) an amazing bit of insight into one corner of the blue-collar world. It’s written by a former cable repairperson, and raises interesting questions for managers (and those who otherwise design systems within which blue-collar workers labour) as well as for customers. Among the issues raised: sexism, racism, sexual harassment, physical danger, unfair (and stupid) compensation systems, and drug abuse. Most discussions of ethical consumerism focus on what you buy; too little focuses on how you treat the providers of the services we all rely upon.

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LINK: I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America. (by Lauren Hough for HuffPost )

…That’s the thing they don’t tell you about opiate addiction. People are in pain because unless you went to college, the only way you’ll earn a decent living is by breaking your body or risking your life — plumbers, electricians, steamfitters, welders, mechanics, cable guys, linemen, fishermen, garbagemen, the options are endless.

They’re all considered jobs for men because they require a certain amount of strength. The bigger the risk, the bigger the paycheck. But you don’t get to take it easy when your back hurts from carrying a 90-pound ladder that becomes a sail in the wind. You don’t get to sit at a desk when your knees or ankles start to give out after crawling through attics, under desks, through crawl spaces. When your elbow still hurts from the time you disconnected a cable line and your body became the neutral line on the electrical feeder and 220 volts ran through your body to the ground. When your hands become useless claws 30 feet in the air on a telephone pole and you leave your skin frozen to the metal tap. So you take a couple pills to get through the day, the week, the year. If painkillers show up on your drug test, you have that prescription from the last time you fell off a roof. Because that’s the other thing about these jobs, they all require drug tests when you get hurt. Smoke pot one night, whether for fun or because you hurt too much to sleep, the company doesn’t have to pay for your injury when your van slides down an icy off-ramp three weeks later. I chose pot to numb my head and body every night. But it was the bigger risk.
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What do you think?


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