West Virginia and much of Appalachia is a place where time and prosperity has passed by without stopping. Our politicians are bought and paid for by corporate interests. The corporate interests are only interested in our resources which they mine in one form or another and haul to other locales to be exploited. We don’t reap a whole lot of the benefits of having those tremendous resources except in the form of temporary wages for a few and low tax revenues for the state. All that is a topic for some future post, but it illustrates how fleeting opportunity is for workers in rural Appalachia.
I can go down into my homeland in Southern WV and see a lot of folks sitting around doing nothing because there just aint much opportunity for good wages down around there. And like my preceding paragraph illustrates, I understand the dilema.
“So what’s the problem Sagacious One,” some of you hillbillies might ask? “There’s nothing we can do about it.” Well, how about this. . . get off your asses and get to work. Laying around waiting for that job over at the Toyota Plant or up at the aluminum plant isn’t going to do a damn thing for you. You can put in an application and wait from now till you die for that plum job. It probably aint gonna happen. The only way you’re going to get one of those jobs is to hussle for it. That means phone calls and generally being a creative nuisance. . . even then, the odds are slim to none that you’re going to walk off the street with a HS education and land one of those high paying corporate jobs.
Sitting around waiting is not job hunting. You’re going to have to get out there and start working. Anywhere. Take whatever job you can get, minimum wage if you have to. That job will lead to another job if you’re worth a damn. People are always looking for good reliable workers. “Reliable” is the operative word of that last sentence. That means you show up on time, you work while you’re there and you come to work when you’re expected. To pull that off, you’re going to have to NOT get drunk every night, You’re going to have to NOT go to work stoned every day. You’re going to have to be clean when you show up at work and you’re going to have to give your employer a solid day’s work for a solid day’s wages. You see, nobody owes you shit. Nothing. You are going to have to work for every thin dime you make and every material possession you gain.
Yea, I know, nobody wants to peddle fast food or work at the Stop and Go, but you don’t have to work there all your life. You work there for a while and you’ll hear about another job somewhere else that pays more and need an experienced worker. From there you move up to something else and so on it goes. You’re not going to drag your ass off the porch into a $25/hr. position armed with a HS education.
That brings me to your other options. . . schooling. College is nice and you can almost always get a decent job with a college education, but you don’t need one to make it in the world. There are all kinds of vocational education programs around. Take a six month course in how to be a welder. Graduate from that and you WILL get a job somewhere. And again, it might not be making $22/hr as a certified welder, but it’ll get your foot in the door somewhere. Enter an apprentice plumbing program or electrician program. The possibilities are endless, but you will have to work for it. It won’t be easy. It never is for poor and working class people to make it in the world, but you can make it. I know first hand that it is possible.
If you’ve ever been to where the Amish people live in Ohio or Pennsylvania you know what it’s like when people take care of themselves and do not tolerate sloven behavior. There is ZERO unemployment among those Amish communities. When farming began to decline in the 80s, they began finding other sources of income. Travel the back roads of those places and you’ll see work shops, saw mills, food processing facilities, and lots of other cottage industries all over the place. Almost every farm has some sort of business attached to it. So ya see, you don’t need employment handed to you.
The other thing about those area is that there are all sorts of manufacturing companies who have set-up shop around there. Why? Because they know that when they advertise for workers, they will get good qualified workers who are willing to work. What sort of incentive does a manufacturer have for doing that in the middle of Appalachia?
You might be able to collect a check for some bullshit reason, but it’s not going to do anything to make a man or woman out of you. If you sit around collecting a check when you are perfectly capable of working, you are a slacker and a cheat. You will know you’re a slacker and a cheat and you will view yourself and your world as being a big pile of shit thus perpetuating your life and culture of being slackers and cheats.
We won’t change the perception of Appalachians as porch dwelling moonshiners until we get to work. That means cutting down the unemployment and going to work. So you think it’s all just stereotypes and oppression huh? Well, maybe it is. Ya know, back when I was growing up, Mexicans were stereotyped as lazy, siesta taking slow talking, slow walking people. Today, Mexicans are the most sought after group of employees in America. They are known as highly skilled laborers who will work hard for a days wages. Now, maybe that’s a stereotype also, but they’ve earned it. They’ve earned it by simply working hard .
So come on people, get busy. Do something. . . anything, but don’t just sit there.