Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do
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Perhaps Studs Terkel’s best-known book, Working is a compelling, fascinating look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews conducted with everyone from gravediggers to studio heads, this book provides a timeless snapshot of people’s feelings about their working lives, as well as a relevant and lasting look at how work fits into American life.
watch-time basis that has no feelings. When they took the unimates on, we were building sixty an hour. When we came back to work, with the unimates, we were building a hundred cars an hour. A unimate is a welding robot. It looks just like a praying mantis. It goes from spot to spot to spot. It releases that thing and it jumps back into position, ready for the next car. They go by them about 110 an hour. They never tire, they never sweat, they never complain, they never miss work. Of course, they
again.” Years ago he had worked in an auto body shop. He quit because “I’ve always enjoyed seeing ships, always hoped I’d be able to go to sea.” I’m using muscles I haven’t used before. Sometimes I have to stop the cab and get out and walk a while, just to stretch out. Sitting for ten, eleven hours a day got me so that I’m all cramped up. I have to take soap, hot water, my wife rubs my feet, my ankles, ’cause my muscles are actually sore. I don’t get no exercise at all like I usually do. I
supporter. One day I went to the check-in counter with a passenger that had excess baggage. As I turned to walk away, my knee just snapped. I went around first aid and she bandaged it for me. It comes and goes. When I first started you carried all baggage by hand. Later, when we worked for individual airlines, you got two-wheel carts. Some fellas can put as many as eighteen to twenty bags on a cart. I’ve done it many times, but I don’t do it any more. ’Cause I’m a little old now. I don’t press
form letters. If they write to the president of the company, they don’t want to hear from the third vice president. They hear from the president. Mail and the telephone, that’s the name of the game in this business. I imagine your phone calls are not long in nature? No, they’re not long in nature. I have this ability—I learned this when I was an announcer years ago, and we were feeding six networks out of here. I could listen to all these channels with earphones and I knew when to say
was the first one on the scene, where we had to burn the gates out of the prison, where the prisoners had boarded up the gates with chairs and furniture. We had to use acetylene torches. My wife knew I was in on it. I was on the front page. They had me with a shotgun and the bullet-proof vest and all the ammunition, waiting to go into the prison. I wonder to myself, Is death a challenge? Is it something I want to pursue or get away from? I’m there and I don’t have to be. I want to be. You have