It has been quite awhile since I blogged “Bridge #1”! I live a busy life: what can I say?!!!
I am on holidays this week, sitting in a fancy hotel in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico! What a life! Santa Fe is absolutely, stunningly beautiful! While I have travelled through the state of New Mexico numerous times in my life, I had never been to or through Santa Fe. What a blessing my life has been. I have experienced so many things, have been to so many places, know people in many places, and in various walks of life.
This is part of my view of me being a bridge between classes. I grew up in a working-class family. My father was a farmer, then turned to welding as an occupation. He then became a maintenance foreman, later a maintenance electrician. He could fix anything. He had an appliance repair business for awhile. I relied heavily on him to fix things around our house whenever he would come to visit. But he never finished high-school, at least not until later in life. And I grew up with a strong identification with working-class people. People who wore hardhats, carried lunchpails to work, were often found in dirty coveralls and with dirty hands.
I myself have dabbled in various trades. I operated machines in a book-binding shop. I worked for awhile as a mechanic’s helper, doing light mechanical work. (I have done a couple motor overhauls, which is a bit above “light” mechanical, but this was never a huge part of any job I had.) I helped erect a metal farm shed; I have worked at several locations in construction, helping frame houses, pour concrete, etc. I have painted houses as a job. I have driven truck for periods of time. One summer I spent on a wheat-harvest crew, driving truck and combine from southern Oklahoma to northern Montana.
And I have gone on to obtain a Master’s degree. And I have worked in several professions, including assistant nurse in a hospital, residential treatment facilities, church leadership including pastoring/preaching, suicide prevention coordinator, giving educational presentations to schools and various professional and corporate agencies, chaplaincy, in both hospital and correctional settings.
And currently I am a city bus driver, very much a “blue-collar” job. I have been doing this for early twenty years, and love it!!
And I especially love driving in industrial areas of the city, taking people to their jobs, home in dirty clothes, smelling of hard labour. I can easily talk to them about the travails of working for a living, finding a job, dealing with bosses, balancing family life with work, you name it. I’ve done most of that, and can relate readily.
But I can also mix easily with professional people. Because of my education, because of my experience in various professions, I can talk to professional people on their level. Not, of course on a technical level, but at a collegial level.
What all of this past experience in various levels of working class and professional circles means to me, I am not sure!! It has been an incredibly interesting life; I have seldom been bored!
But having jumped around at various occupations and jobs, means I have never followed one track for very long. Which means I have not advanced nearly to the level of many of my peers. It is tempting sometimes to look at my life as not very successful. But I don’t. I have very few, if any, regrets about my past. I made decisions at stages of my life using the best knowledge I had at the time. Sure, as we can all say, I’m sure, if I had it to do over again I’d make different decisions. But that sort of attitude usually results in thinking that if knew then what I know now. . . Which, in the end, is futile thinking. I did not know then what I know now. But I trust that back whenever I had the knowledge to make the best decision I could at the time.
So this week I am in New Mexico, mixing with colleagues of my wife, all of whom have degrees, most of them with graduate degrees, some, like my wife, with post-graduate training and education. And I feel completely comfortable doing that. I don’t feel inadequate or less-than. I know that whatever level in life a person achieves, whether academic, financial, occupational, etc., everyone has similar struggles. I guess that is one advantage my very varied life has given me: a perspective to view life from different angles, from different strata if you will. For while western civilization likes to pride itself on being relatively class-less, there still exist class distinctions, like it or not.