I’ve read much over the years about the decline of manufacturing here in the USA and how it hurts our greater economy. I suppose there are many reasons for this decline – labor cost, tax incentives, the cost of health care………etc and frankly I have nothing new to add in regards to these. One thing I seldom hear about is the desire to work with one’s hands. Set aside how much money one can or can’t be made doing it and just for a moment think about the core desire, or lack thereof, to make stuff. Do kids want to grow up and turn wrenches and make things anymore? I’m not a kid and haven’t been for more than a few years now but it feels to me like it’s just not ‘cool’ to make stuff – unless that stuff happens to be money. Now money is a very good thing but what about the pride one has at the end of a long and hard day when they can lean back against the bench and see the fruit of their labors and just feel good about it?

I grew up in a home where dad worked with his hands and made cars work better than they ever had a right to and mom made art to die for. When dad died mom remarried a man who worked with his mind at work during the day and then came home and made the most clever and pragmatic things you can imagine. My grandfather made things, my grandmother made art of all types…….everyone made things and it was highly respected in our family and I never for a moment thought I’d do anything but make things for a living for the rest of my life. I’ve only had one job in my life where I didn’t have something mechanical and substantial to stand back and look at at the end of the day and that was being a snowboard instructor. My product there was different and as much as I liked seeing others ride better because of what I thought them I did miss the process of making stuff with my own two hands and wits and the pride of standing back and looking at it when it was all done.

If I could change anything at this point I’d like to impart the desire of young folks to learn to make stuff and to learn to make it better so that they could experience the feeling I get at the end of the day. I learned from watching my father that working with one’s hands is an honorable way to spend the day, make a living and have a positive impact on the world. Maybe if the pride was there then the recognition from others and money would follow.

This video is something I’ve watched more times than I care to admit and it makes me tear up with emotion and pride every time. The subject has such deep and simple dignity. He has just reason to be proud. He shows that doing the work is its own reward. I want to be this guy when I grow up.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do and share it with others as you can.

Thanks for reading,



This entry was posted in Musings.  

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6 responses to “Professional.”

  1. parris says:

    Hey Dave thanks for posting this. There’s what I believe is a video online of the tv host Mike Rowe in front of a government comittee giving a speach on the importance of the trades and the need for education for young people. It’s scairy a bit in just how fast many of these skills seem to be getting lost.

  2. steve garro says:

    I agree – many of my young under 20yr old relatives can barely make a sandwich whereas at a recent family reunion poll most of my cousins as well as me have spent our lives making things by hand, with three lifetime metalworkers included……

  3. squirtdad says:

    I really get this

    I sit in front of a computer or in meetings all day and it is good living, but when i get home I have to build or fix things. So I cook (a nice chef’s knife is therapeutic) or fix things around the house or build things (surfboard, skateboard for kid) or think about building things (wooden surfboard or lugged brazed frame). I grew up in Chinook, MT and worked with by hands and built things as a kid.

    The hard thing is passing this on to my son in the electronic age, so he and I have done bike projects like convert a 78 univega to his beloved fixie (frame to metal, paint, new components) and fix bikes for a charity. I seemsome summer painting projects for him also. A balance board project is in the works also.

  4. Jon Fischer says:

    Kids have traded Legos for iPads and XBox. I fondly recall transforming scrap pieces of wood cast off from my dad’s building projects into boats at the lake too. I work in software, so I still get to sit back at the end of the day and see that I’ve ‘created’ something even if it’s not physical, and thoroughly enjoy wrenching on my own bikes, built the work bench I have at the house, etc. I’m thankful I had the Legos long before I had a computer.

  5. Tselot "Coco" Kifle says:

    Wow! Thanks for posting this video David. I’m a part a minority of American teenagers who grew up without a TV and room full of video games at home. Instead it was legos, model cars and ariplanes, slot cars, bicycles. It’s amazing what kids can do with their hands when there’s no electronics around. Now I’m in love with two things born from my childhood experience: classic, American, muscle cars and custom lugged Bicycles. Hopefully I’ll be able to build a bike as well as you someday.
    T. Kifle

  6. Tselot "Coco" Kifle says:

    Correction: I am a part of a minority of American*

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