Big Red Car here with the Labor Day holiday in the rear view mirror. Rained all day in the ATX, but we love our September rains. Bring. Them. On.
Got me thinking about the number of times I’d worked hard and ended up bone crushingly tired.
It was a special kind of tired.
I wish that every man and woman in the United States could experience that phenomenon. Good hard back breaking work followed by a paralyzing level of tired. It gives a person worth.
Tired, how tired, Big Red Car?
It was the kind of tired resulting from doing something noble, hard, or of consequence and you lay down in bed and your body celebrated — with pain — the nobility of your labor and the worthiness of its purpose.
It was the kind of tired which was flavored by the work. It drove you deep into sleep and you lay there, perhaps, never moving all night long.
Many times, it was the character of the work being for others which made it more “enjoyable?” Yes, I said enjoyable.
In this fatigue, I learned a great number of lessons. I learned that I could work hard and take the resulting cost to my body. I learned that I could work hard in a cause which was not focused on me.
Tired, exemplar me up, Big Red Car
I remember the first time I ever worked a full day in construction when I was in high school. Big for my age, I was working alongside full grown men. One day I was using a jack hammer to bust out manholes to raise them in anticipation of the road being re-paved. That night my entire upper frame was still quivering and my ears rang.
Another day, I was hauling riprap – tons of rock – to face a dam with. I thought my arms were going to come out of their sockets, but I also remember looking at that dam covered by the rock I’d hauled.
I remember running a big cement finishing machine and having to “put the concrete to bed” which meant I was up until 4:00 AM and slept at the jobsite, being paid double time for every minute of it. That time I made a lot of money though I was only being paid about $2.50/hour.
I remember as a cadet at VMI going out to fight forest fires as part of the Virginia Militia. We subsisted on cheese sandwiches and koolaid. When we came back, we were covered in soot, dead walking tired, and in need of two days of sleep.
I remember being in the Army and digging in for the night and then being told we were moving a mile down the road to confuse any observers and we had to dig in again. I didn’t say I didn’t curse at the time.
I remember building something, looking at the finished product, saying, “That looks like Hell.” I ripped it out, did it again, until it looked great.
I remember building temporary quarters for displaced persons who were sitting in the rain waiting for me and my men to get finished. I thought I was tired, but they were exhausted. The desperate nature of their existence fueled my work. When the roof was finished, they flooded in like a tidal wave and I felt their relief.
Tired, I wish for you to be tired
What I wish for y’all is the same thing – spending yourself in a noble cause in which you may not be the direct beneficiary – investing your labor in something which may be bigger than yourself.
I wish for you that special kind of tired.
Not just around Labor Day, but all the time.
Have you ever experienced that special kind of tired?