What is a hard working American?

Recently the phrase “hard-working American” has crept into the vernacular of those politicians running for public office. It is an easy way for them to show a bond with those Americans struggling to eke out an existence. Both the left and the right love this phrase.

It got me thinking, who are these hard-working American’s of whom they speak. I would suspect that they include factory workers, trades people, teachers and waitresses standing on their feet for hours, but I have personal experience that doesn’t always gel with that being the case. When I was in the carpenters union as an apprentice the workers were more than hard-working, sometimes busting their asses in 100 degree heat to get forms finished before the trucks carrying the concrete arrived, but at another job loading flats with groceries stored in an AandP warehouse to fill orders for various super markets around Boston, I was told by my steward to hold back and only fill three flats a night else management might want more for their buck. You can imagine what happened when some new kid came on the job and loaded six flats over the same time period. We were workers but not “hard” workers.

Wall street stock brokers work hard convincing an investor to put his money in a situation that is going to benefit the broker as much as the investor and sometimes more. Does that count as “hard” work or just “hard” hustling.

And then there are the clergy who for the price of a small but sometimes not so small donation, sell a fantasy to the flock that life after death is going to be abundant and happy. But the preacher fails to mention that their “hard” donations afford him an abundant life right here on earth long before death. Is this hard work or a hard con?

Is a stripper doing an 8 hour shift at a men’s club a “hard” worker. My wife did that and I know for a fact that it was hard work but I doubt that the politicians had her in mind.

And then there’s the dregs of the world, often black women who are kept out of the main stream work force and have to resort to “hard” work of a more treacherous nature. Often when I would walk down Tremont street in Boston at 2 Am after my shift at A and P ended I would see black hookers standing in the door ways to get relief from the bitter cold while they waited for a trick. Even more startling was when I ventured out into the street at 3AM during a business trip in New York to get a cup of coffee and came across a black hooker on her knees in the bitter cold in a basement apartment stairwell giving a guy a blow job. She was a “hard-working American in a most literal sense but I doubt if the politicians had her in mind while they bloviated about the plight of “hard-working Americans.

“Hard-working” may sound good from a dais but what the hell does it mean in reality?

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