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“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.”  
        Herman Melville- Moby Dick

Manual labor is directed to four things.
First and principally to obtain food; wherefore it was said to the first man (Genesis 3:19): “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,” and it is written (Psalm 127:2): “For thou shalt eat the labors of thy hands.”
Secondly, it is directed to the removal of idleness whence arise many evils; hence it is written (Sirach 33:28,29): “Send” thy slave “to work, that he be not idle, for idleness hath taught much evil.”
Thirdly, it is directed to the curbing of concupiscence, inasmuch as it is a means of afflicting the body; hence it is written (2 Corinthians 6:5-6): “In labors, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity.”
Fourthly, it is directed to almsgiving, wherefore it is written (Ephesians 4:28): “He that stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have something to give to him that suffereth need.”  St. Thomas Aquinas

The Joys of Hard Physical Labor
I like working.  I like working, because I snap myself out of the reveries that make me believe that I something more special that what God created me to become.  People have had their ears pounded with my nonsense of “I am an English teacher, writer and really terrific carbon foot-print. Yeah? Well La Dee-Effing Dah!”

I no longer teach at Marquette Catholic High School.  My career there ended in December and we shall let it go at that.  I searched for a job that would challenge my sixty-seven-year-old body and not my spirit.  I have learned that after a career, or life set-back, nothing is so good as hard physical labor.  After one such career set-back, I worked as a Driving Range – ranger.  I was the guy who drove the Kubota tractor and raked up range balls, washed said white pearls of the course, bucketed the Titleist’s and sold them, as well as beer and hot dogs at the wonderful Evergreen Park District facility on 91st & Rockwell.  This place is a gem of the south side and should be named after Mayor Jimmy Sexton who dreamed up this farm/driving range and Frisbee golf course.  I also worked for the former Labriola Bakery in Alsip, Illinois and kept pace with my young comrades of the minimum wage.   I made gluten free Parm Crisps and later packaged and shipped this over-priced product that will set you back almost $8 per dozen crackers.  They reminded me particle board – de gustibus non est disputandum.

After parting ways with my profession as a Catholic high school English teacher, I determined to work my eight hours and punch out at the end of the day.  No longer am I tasked with grading papers, creating lesson plans and entertaining scores of bright young people, while being harried by passive aggressive people who could not cut it in the classroom and the mediocrities who seem to flourish in our nation’s Offices of Catholic Schools universal.  Now, I punch in at one of the growing numbers of trucking platforms for goods.

I work in one of the many massive rectangular plants in the Port of Indiana that are much like the many facilities that dominate the once waving fields of grain along major inter-State highways.  These places are operated by corporations that appear more like the adorable Russian Matryoshka dolls. I work for company Phoenix which employees people willing to work eight to ten hours a day on their feet doing work that is simple, but physically challenging.  This company was contracted by an acronym firm called Productive Manufacturing Systems, or something like that and it has its own offices within the plant.  My plant manager runs the lines and staffs each one within a 30,000 plus square footage.  Both companies bring in product from a local plant that manufactures candy.  Our candies are chewable vitamins from Women, Children and Men.

Staff are required to punch in at 6:08 AM and make themselves presented to the individual line bosses, or Operators.  Work begins before 6:30 AM.  My tasks have been to make shipping boxes, label them according to the daily codes provided by the line bosses and keep the packer in boxes until the end of the day.  I am required to check dates, and times and placement of labels and them build pallets of product. There is a great deal of bending, twisting and walking, as well as deft box making.

There are two ten-minute breaks and 30n minute lunch.  The lunchroom is very quiet.  By 3P.M. this old guy is ready for a shower.

The people who work with me a credit to the American work ethic and the supervisors work harder than the line-hands.  They do everything we do, plus make careful and accurate accounting of all product and shipping protocols. The workers in Port of Indiana never complain and exceed expectations even when short staffed.
God always has a new window for all of us and this one has been a genuine tonic to my spirit and general outlook, Hard work is a joy,

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