The Female Working Man

man on jobsite

By: Lynn Bolster

There is a special place in my heart for the working man. I am a woman and should be writing about those strong women out there, but this time it’s about the men. This article is about the blue-collar working man and I, by no means, am disregarding other workers out there, it’s just that this one is about workers like truckers, laborers, mill workers, construction guys, and like that.

For some reason I relate to and understand men in a way even I don’t comprehend. I get them, their struggles, their stoicism. Obviously, not all men are what I am about to describe, but the men I have known, including my father, displayed little feelings or emotions. Those who have spent time in jail or prison camp in WW2 like my father, learned to keep feelings inside because showing vulnerability could mean death – for real. When I was first trucking, Bill drilled this into my head. Be as tough as you can to protect yourself. Work hard, don’t reveal much, don’t think everyone is your friend. Smile but keep your distance; they’ll cut your throat in a minute. He was referring to the big battle in trucking: rates. Drivers will undercut you in a second. You’ll learn real fast who you can trust and who you can’t. And I still don’t trust anyone initially until they prove otherwise. It’s a shame to be that way but it has helped me survive. The road is not an easy place to live. Anyone and anything can cross your path, and you must constantly evaluate what is real and what is not.

The working men I learned from taught me that everything you have you earn. Do your part, and show your strength, but be kind and respectful enough to keep relationships afloat. There are no handouts or someone to bail you out. Always be on guard. Speak your mind when necessary but know you may lose friends or contacts when you do so. Nobody owes you anything. It sounds like a tough way to live but it has worked for me.

I grew up with a combo blue and white collar father. He was a hobo during the depression working any job he could find, a lumberjack, a potato picker, a bodybuilder, a deep sea diver, in the Navy 20 years, a Japanese POW for 4 years, yet managed to become a stock broker among other assorted careers, earned his PhD in economics and become a college professor. So like him, I can go blue collar or white collar. Mom used to say “Your dad did all these mismatched things, then got his college degrees whereas you did college first and then joined the circus” which to her = trucking. Like father, like daughter!

Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I would become a trucker, a scrapper, a junker and a working man. Yes I said that. When I did those things, I got as dirty and full of grease as the guys and felt pride in my work. My fellow working men couldn’t believe that I didn’t mind getting in the thick of it with them working shoulder to shoulder. Not that I don’t feel that in my cleaner, white-collar jobs, it’s just that dirt makes the work visible and that is something I wore with honor. Most women I speak to can’t imagine what it was like to be a female working man. They can’t relate but are fascinated by it. Well, all I know is I don’t regret one day of it.

This all probably sounds foreign to most, but there is satisfaction in making it in this life. I’ve always done whatever it takes to make a buck, legally and morally. No job is beneath me. I may not like it, but I’ll do it if it means survival. And I’ve been in some pretty tough spots. Sometimes I’ll see a young man in the grocery store, wearing one of those fluorescent work shirts, dirty from the workday and I think about how rewarding it is to see him being responsible for his life.

There is a TV show called Homestead Rescue about a father, son, and daughter who travel the country to help homesteaders live off-grid. The father, Marty Raney, is asked about his resume to do this type of work as he has lived this lifestyle for over 50 years. He holds up his 67-year-old weather-beaten, cracked, rock-hardened, leathery hands and says “Resume?? This is my resume!”

So take pride in what you do, no matter what it is or how you earn your honest living. God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips those who He has called. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23