Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
If you’ve ever worked in a mill, this song is one you’d understand. When I hear the Beltway guys in fancy suits and $400.00 haircuts who have the best medical benefits in the free world argue the proper retirement age, I always think about some guy who works in the mill, on a roof, or in the cardboard box factory.
If the retirement age is changed it doesn’t make any difference to the lawmakers, and doesn’t affect a guy like me who works in the AC much either. But I’ve worked some of those jobs before I became a doc, and I never forgot.
Try a season on the asphalt paving crew. Hot, tired, sunburned; by the end of the summer you pray for rain so you can go home. You cash your paycheck at week’s end and stick it in your pocket, ’cause you know it’ll all be gone by Thursday. It’s not enough pay to do much more than subsist. It’s hard to pursue grace and dignity if you have to pursue survival.
Come fall back then some of the kids would complain Organic Chemistry was hard, and I’d always smile and say, “No it’s not.”
So in the debate about retirement age, I hope they keep the cat in mind who has to crawl around under a house to make a living. By the time he’s my age his back won’t let him do it. If he’s made it that far without turning to crime to survive, or worse yet quit being productive altogether and somehow become a celebrity (famous and rich for doing nothing) then let the guy rest. I think he’s earned his trip to the beach to play with grandchildren far more than the lawmakers have.
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