In my eyes there are only three major types of industries. There’s blue collar, white collar, and service industry/tourism. White collar is pretty self explanatory. If you wear button down and polo shirts to work and sit at a desk that’s white collar. Think of your financial planners, office managers, and sales people. The service industry and tourism are kind of a weird hybrid. You can be the CFO or the server at a restaurant. Blue collar is your trades. Think of your plumbers, electricians, tree trimmer, and so on. Blue collar however has gotten a bad rep over the last few years. My parents and grandparents tried so hard to get me to go to college and get a good desk job, but that’s not in my blood.
So what defines blue collar then? Blue collar jobs as far as I am concerned are the closest thing to a meritocracy that we have. People that work hard to build cool things don’t care if you have tattoos, piercings, or even a criminal record in some cases. What we care about is what we create. Blue collar people set the standard, because without us society doesn’t function. We are the ones that sleep in homes with no power after hurricanes. We come home marred and beaten with blood, sweat, and tears on our faces. We drive trucks through rain, ice, snow, and sleet to keep society working the way it should be. We rarely get days off and we’re good with that.
White collar jobs have safety and security. Your paycheck will be the same week to week and so will your working hours. Your shiny new car will take you to abs from work with ease. That’s totally fine. In fact some people are built and bred for that. I was not.
See I grew up in a family of bakers. We made French bread 16 hours a day and delivered to all the local restaurants. My family had that bakery for 70 years before selling it in 2004. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit. I helped my dad build fences for 3 years. I was in high school, but I thought I was living the high life. Dad eventually went back to the Sheriff’s office. My whole family pressured me to go to college. So I got accepted to five universities and took the offer of the best one a private catholic college here in New Orleans. Again this is right for a lot of people it just wasn’t right for me. I worked a desk job while in college. I had set hours and off days with benefits. It was kind of cool. But I wasn’t happy. I dropped out of college and did the service industry and tourism for several years. I still felt like something wasn’t whole.
Fast forward a little bit. A friend of mine who is an arborist begs me to sell firewood for him. There’s so much money in firewood it’s not even funny. Or so he told me at least. It’s easy work and a flexible schedule. You can sell to restaurants and other commercial businesses that buy it every month. So I started Wildman Firewood in 2019.
Since being back in the blue collar life I can definitively say there is only one life for me. I work directly with contractors, arborists, demolition specialists, truck drivers, loggers, and so many more. Do a bunch of us fit the stereotype of wearing boots and jeans while driving big trucks and listening to country music? Sure. Would I have it any other way? Never. Blue collar is a brotherhood. We work hard, we get angry, we get hurt, but we love each other. We all know the risks. People trust me with dangerous machines that costs whole annual salaries. I could lose a limb or worse to one of the four chainsaws I own. But I don’t even think about that. I only think about two things when I’m working getting better and the people that rely on me. Some of the best barbecue and pizza places around me rely on me to make their food. They call me their trade secret.
See when all else goes sideways blue collar people are the ones you look for. We are the ones you look to when you break the glass in case of emergency. We are three dimensional problem solvers. You give us a thing that is broken and we make it work again. You can’t get to your home because a tree fell on power lines we clean it up. You want that toy for Christmas we truck it across the country. Remember all this before you tell your kid they could end up like us if they don’t study. You’re right. They might end up like us. They might end up sore and tired at the end of each work day. But they will also be the one thing I didn’t have until now. Fulfilled.