How much do I want to read more? 6/10

I wonder how I picked up this book. It's huge, it has foreword, long introduction, then preface I, then preface II, then preface III…
It's tedious to read through this before reaching the "meat" of the book itself. (better to read those after the book itself)
The topic interesting though: getting to know people's thoughts about their work, from all walk of life.
It looks a bit outdated, like one generation ago or two, but it's still an interesting read. It's just so voluminous. Not the kind of book you want to read from page 1 to page 700. You'd rather read one page here and there.
One interesting idea is how important recognition is. Men want to see what they accomplish, and show it to others.
In my work as a developer, I always wanted to collect everything I "built" (programs I coded), and things I learned, like a daily blog, or a daily journal, but I kind of failed doing so consistently. Maybe I'm after the same "recognition", this drive we all have to do something meaningful we can look back as we grow.

What's interesting is to get to know the opinion of a variety of people in the span of the same book.
You won't have the chance to talk to so many people in real life. Only thanks to the book, and the great work the author / the interviewer, the people, you can.

Also, reading other's struggles make you more humble facing yours. We should feel lucky more than we think about it.
Those people, their struggles, their fight, their life, their blood, their sweat: it's what our comfortable modern life did cost to them. We should be grateful if not ashame to benefit what they didn't have. We should be thankful. If we could do half their work, and go through half what they endured it could change the way we see our work.

You can’t eat for eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours a day—all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy.

—- William Faulkner

The “work ethic” holds that labor is good in itself; that a man or woman becomes a better person by virtue of the act of working. America’s competitive spirit, the “work ethic” of this people, is alive and well on Labor Day, 1971.

—- Richard M. Nixon


Mr. Terkel found, work was a search, sometimes successful, sometimes not, “for daily meaning as well as daily bread.”
In the last thirty years, productivity has soared, but job satisfaction has plummeted.

There are disgruntled workers in Working who feel caged in by their jobs, but many others exult in their ability to demonstrate their competence, to show off their personality and to perform. “When I put the plate down, you don’t hear a sound,” a waitress says. “If I drop a fork, there is a certain way I pick it up. I know they can see how delicately I do it. I’m on stage.”


This book, being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence.
to the spirit as well as to the body. It is about ulcers as well as accidents.
It is about a search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash.
Perhaps immortality, too, is part of the quest. To be remembered was the wish, spoken and unspoken, of the heroes and heroines of this book.

he bookbinder, who saves a piece of history; the Brooklyn fireman, who saves a piece of life…
But don’t these satisfactions, like Jude’s hunger for knowledge, tell us more about the person than about his task?
a common attribute here: a meaning to their work well over and beyond the reward of the paycheck.

To earn one’s bread by the sweat of one’s brow has always been the lot of mankind.

When someone says, ‘How come you’re just a waitress?’ I say, ‘Don’t you think you deserve being served by me?’ ”

“I worked in a bank. You know, it’s just paper. It’s not real. Nine to five and it’s shit. You’re lookin’ at numbers. But I can look back and say, ‘I helped put out a fire. I helped save somebody.’ It shows something I did on this earth.”

Peface I

You can’t take pride any more. You remember when a guy could point to a house he built, how many logs he stacked. He built it and he was proud of it. I don’t really think I could be proud if a contractor built a home for me. I would be tempted to get in there and kick the carpenter in the ass (laughs), and take the saw away from him. ’Cause I would have to be part of it, you know.

So when a guy walked by, he could take his son and say, “See, that’s me over there on the forty-fifth floor. I put the steel beam in.” Picasso can point to a painting. What can I point to? A writer can point to a book. Everybody should have something to point to.

If I had a twenty-hour workweek, I’d get to know my kids better, my wife better.

It isn’t that the average working guy is dumb. He’s tired, that’s all. I picked up a book on chess one time. That thing laid in the drawer for two or three weeks. During the weekends you want to take your kids out. You don’t want to sit there and the kid comes up: “Daddy, can I go to the park?” You got your nose in a book? Forget it.

I know a guy fifty-seven years old. Know what he tells me? “Mike, I’m old and tired all the time.”

I can’t imagine a job where you go home and maybe go by a year later and you don’t know what you’ve done. My work, I can see what I did the first day I started. All my work is set right out there in the open and I can look at it as I go by. It’s something I can see the rest of my life.



If I owned a lot of farm land myself, if I had that much money, I don’t think I’d be farming it. I’d let somebody else worry with it.


According to Mom, I was born on a cotton sack out in the fields, ‘cause she had no money to go to the hospital

After my dad died, my mom would come home and she’d go into her tent and I would go into ours.
we’d go into the tent where Mom was sleeping and I’d see her crying.
All she said was things would get better.
That day she thought would be better never came for her.

I say that a family that works together stays together—because of the suffering.


They wasn’t much to think on when you didn’t have no education.
There was fifteen in the family and we were raised in a log house.


If we made a dollar and a half a day, we made pretty good money. You got up between three thirty and four in the morning. You’d start work about six. We usually got out around maybe dark or seven or eight, nine o‘clock.


I don’t think anybody’s gonna say their work’s satisfyin’, gratifyin’, unless you’re in business for yourself.
The end of the day, the older you get, the tireder you get.


The difficulty is not in running a crane. Anyone can run it. But making it do what it is supposed to do, that’s the big thing. It only comes with experience. Some people learn it quicker and there’s some people can never learn it. (Laughs.) What we do you can never learn out of a book. You could never learn to run a hoist or a tower crane by reading. It’s experience and common sense.

It’s not so much the physical, it’s the mental. When you’re working on a tunnel and you’re down in a hole two hundred feet, you use hand signals. You can’t see there. You have to have someone else that’s your eyes. There has been men dropped and such because some fellow gave the wrong signal.