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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Low-skilled workers forced to endure Silicon Valley’s culture of judgment

Even in the Silicon Valley, an area supposedly receptive to different ideas and cultures, blue-collar workers are sometimes looked down upon because of their jobs. These are the people who tend our gardens, provide us with meals or lay the foundations of our safe and comfortable homes.

Still, many of them live in neighborhoods we will never visit; many of us will never speak to some of those who have worked for our parents for years. And as children who grew up watching these workers, many of us now see ourselves as being somehow superior, writing them off as uneducated or lazy, unsuccessful or unhappy.

The truth is that these people do noble work and manage to earn a living in one of the costliest places to live. In light of the 2008 financial crisis, it’s also impressive that low-skilled workers have found work at all. They earn money to support their families with their labor rather than rely on relatives or other means — a choice that demonstrates initiative more than anything else. It’s a shame that others look down upon them when they are making a perfectly respectable, honest living.

In addition, jobs viewed as “dirty work” — those of custodians, gardeners, plumbers and construction workers — are necessary to a functioning community. Despite this, blue-collar workers are often subject to disrespectful and condescending treatment; too many assume that they are inherently less hardworking or intelligent. The thought that workers are inferior manifests itself in wealthier people’s subconscious assumptions, leading the wealthy to instinctively treat them with more brusque speech and manners.

Yet while required skills and training of a manual worker, for example, may not compare with that of an engineer or biologist, all honest work deserves respect.
The jobs they perform — cleaning, constructing household parts, preparing fast food — are tasks that must be done. In the end, it simply comes down to by whom.

Even if these workers are only in these jobs by necessity, we should respect the fact that they are stepping up and doing their part. Just as success in school does not define a student’s worth and humanity, it is crucial to keep in mind that a person’s job — whether CEO or custodian — does not either.

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