I really enjoyed this week’s readings! In fact, I think these two are my favorites! However, for this week’s blog post, I’m going to focus on Mike Rose’s Blue-Collar Brilliance because I connected with it more.
Rose challenges the common perception that blue-collar work is strictly physical. He argues that it is much more than that – that it is challenging mental work that involves a lot of learned knowledge and an ability to solve problems. He demonstrates this by writing about his mother and his admiration for her work as a waitress. His mother, Rosie, “learned to work smart [… and to] make every move count.” She was adept at reading social cues of both her customers and her fellow co-workers that allowed her to work efficiently. She understood, through lots of practice and observation, restaurant psychology. Mike Rose uses this example to show how blue-collar work is often over-looked. To the average person, Rosie is “just a waitress.” However, due to our societal confined definitions of intelligence (as only being high IQ scores), the thought processes and her understanding of the people around her are often overlooked.
I often see examples of this where I work. I work at a Paint Store where a large amount of our customers are painting contractors. My brother is also a professional painting contractor. It is the common perception that these contractors are just laborers, people that work with their hands and are skilled at physical work. What people do not realize that painting is a lot more complicated than it seems. For one, it requires a ton of technical knowledge. Paint will fail if it is applied incorrectly and a lot of technical knowledge is needed to make sure the right products are used and to insure that it will hold up. When a paint has failed, it also requires a lot of knowledge and problem-solving to figure out what the problem is. Painting contractors are also adept to aesthetics – they know what they need to do to make people happy in their homes. They can give decorating advice, know what finishes to use and provide suggestions to help people improve their homes. Some painting contractors are also artists that are able to do decorative finishes – this involves a creative eye. I always admire watching my brother work, he has an attention to detail and truly can transform an entire room by doing an immaculate paint job.
I agree with Rose, blue-collar work, like my brother’s, is often over-looked. It does demand both body and brain. Our society needs to move away from it’s emphasis on test scores and recognize unique sources of intelligence and knowledge.