Mrs. DTG and I don’t watch very much TV, but one of the few shows we do watch is Survivor. It is a fascinating social, physical, and mental game where competitors seek to “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” one another. Over the course of 39 days, the castaways live in a remote location with limited food and shelter while competing to earn the title of sole survivor. This past season pitted 18 competitors against one another, grouping them by socioeconomic class: white collar vs blue collar vs no collar.
This got me thinking. On the outside, I am decidedly white collar. Highly educated, check. Clean cut appearance, check. Professional career, check. I’m going down the “right” path as described by society. But is this really who I am?
If we’re talking about work ethic, I am definitely blue collar. I enjoy getting my hands dirty doing manual labor and DIY projects around the house. Last summer, we completed an extensive landscaping project in the backyard (as mentioned here) which involved digging up a bunch of grass, laying around 3,000 pounds of flagstone, building a fire pit, and planting a garden. For part of the project, we hired a hardworking mason to help build a retaining wall around the garden. I worked beside him the entire day in the blazing south Texas sun. That evening, speaking in Spanish, he told Mrs. DTG how impressed he was with my work ethic and how you hardly see that anymore. To me, that was a bigger compliment than winning any award as a desk jockey.
As a matter of fact, when I look back, my favorite job was probably after my junior year of college when I worked for my university as part of the set up crew for the student union building. We were tasked with arranging tables and chairs in various meeting rooms according to the meeting holder’s requirements. Additionally, we had to set up a large auditorium to accommodate freshman orientations that were being held throughout the summer. Initially, the auditorium would be set up simply with rows of chairs. The parents and incoming students would listen to a few presentations then leave to go on a campus tour. We’d have an hour to change the room into a dining facility for a buffet-style lunch. That hour was a mad dash of chaos and it was exhilarating! After the parents and incoming students ate and before we tore the setup down, we treated ourselves to a leftover buffet lunch.
College student + free food = awesome!
The problem with the terms “white collar” and “blue collar”, though, is that they describe occupations. They don’t describe who you are. Since I graduated, it always irked me when I was referred to as “the engineer.” I happen to hold an engineering degree, but I am much more than that. Corporate culture, and society in general, tends to define people by their role and occupation. You are a cog in a wheel, keeping the machine running smoothly.
That’s why, at heart, I identify more with the no collars. To me, this is more of a state of mind. No collars aren’t bound by societal expectations. They do what they want, whenever they want. Just the thought of not being defined by my job is liberating!
Instead, I like to think of myself as more of a 16th century Renaissance man; someone with many skills and interests, ones that aren’t tied down and constrained by the expectations of a 9-5, 40-hour work week for four decades.
That isn’t for me. I’m not a white collar or a blue collar.
I am Ditching the Grind.
Husband. Father. Son. Brother.
Thinker. Dreamer. Doer.