Working to impress

Stud Terkel’s Working, is a graphic adaptation that captures the various voices of workers American or non American and the conditions that they go through every day of their lives. Working in certain atmospheres and environments make the workers feel as though they have no meaning in their lives because any man and any “monkey” can do what they are doing at their jobs. Every day that the workers come to work, they get reminded of how miserable and meaningless their whole lives are. In a sense, they are not controlling their jobs, but rather their jobs are controlling every aspect of the workers lives. For example where they live, what they wear, what they eat, and even what they own. The workers are robotized and they are automatically doing what they do every time. However, some workers value their status in society than the actual job. In the original introduction to Studs Terkel’s Working, he suggests that the workers are not ashamed of what they do but rather what society sees them in a lower status. Workers want to be treated with respect by the people they work for or vice versa, the people that work for them. The workers want respect to be associated with their jobs as a vice president of a company or a salesman.

In the chapter “Working the land”, Terkel depicts stories of workers like Aunt Katherine Haynes in “Farm woman, Joe and Susie Haynes in “Coal miner and wife,” and Roberto Acuna in “Farmworker” who have one thing in common which is that they are involved in jobs that involve working the land. It portrays their conditions and their situations throughout life. I noticed that education was an important issue in some of these works. For example: Bobby in “Farmworker,” can not keep up with school because he would get too tired from working out in the fields to harvest. Bobby and his family are farmers who work early in the morning with their hands. They have no other choice but to work in order to support themselves. Even in society today, you either have to work or go to school. It is very hard to manage both a job and an education especially if you are poor and deprived of most things. However, In “Farmworker,” there is also the fear of being placed by robots who work for free.

According to Acuna in “Farmworker,” If I had enough money, I would take busloads of people out to the fields and into the labor camps. Then they’d know how that fine salad got on their table” (Terkel 23). The worker wants to be appreciated by the tremendous hard work that they are doing in order to earn their living and also to stay alive. They want to have an impact on the world and contribute their work into something valuable. Workers want to have a certain status and an identity that shows off their efforts.


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