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Here s another one for my unfinished shelf, unfortunately I ve read about 250 pages, which is one third of the way through, but with the end so far on the horizon, I m ready to give up Since the book is structured in individual interviews, can always pick up again some other time It s not like it s a complete story, and I m missing the ending.The interviewees are regular Americans talking about what they do for a living Most of them are griping, which I can relate to, but that may be part of why I m having trouble getting through 700 pages of it On the other hand, almost every one of them has something interesting to say, and they really do give a picture not only of their jobs, but of the times These interviews were held in the early 70 s, so people are talking about Vietnam and NOT talking about the Internet I ll bet some of these jobs don t even exist today.The two I ll probably remember best are the film critic and one of the two cops The film critic said, Don t envy movie actors and screen and print writers for making a lot of money Envy them because they re doing creative work that they love That s a point that a bored office worker can relate to The cop said that if cops earned points for the good they can do in the community, as opposed to just making arrests and giving out tickets, society would improve Words of wisdom, but it s stuck between a whole lot of descriptions of drudgery Still, I can t give this book less than a 3 It s an accurate picture of real life. This book was to some degree a political gesture when it was written a radical reassessment of which lives are worth documenting and which voices worth being heard but it would be a shame to read it that way What this book is is what life feels like during the hours you don t choose for yourself as told by airline stewardesses, union bosses, factory workers, CEOs, car salesmen, whatever and there s as much humanity in here as in any novel It is also, incidentally, insanely useful source material for anyone writing a novel.The interviews aren t transcribed straight, obviously they re culled and edited expertly from longer conversations, and anyone who s conducted interviews knows how difficult it is to shape a coherent, legible story from a raw interview without losing the voice of the subject Terkel was brilliant at it, gifted with the warmth and empathy and touch to elicit truly personal responses to the subjects own working lives he ll be very much missed, and still stands as a reminder of what good journalism can be. @DOWNLOAD EPUB Î Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day & How They Feel About What They Do ⚦ Studs Terkel Records The Voices Of America Men And Women From Every Walk Of Life Talk To Him, Telling Him Of Their Likes And Dislikes, Fears, Problems, And Happinesses On The Job Once Again, Terkel Has Created A Rich And Unique Document That Is As Simple As Conversation, But As Subtle And Heartfelt As The Meaning Of Our Lives In The First Trade Paperback Edition Of His National Bestseller, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Studs Terkel Presents The Real American Experience Chicago Daily News A Magnificent Book A Work Of Art To Read It Is To Hear America Talking Boston Globe They ask me if it s true that when we bury somebody we dig em out in four, five years and replace em with another one I tell em no When these people is buried, he s buried here for life. Elmer Ruiz, GravediggerIt is not really accurate to call Terkel the author of this book The real authors are the 133 subjects of Terkel s interviews Terkel serves as a stenographer and redactor, recording interviews and editing them into readable format This is no mean feat, of course The ability to get everyday people to open up and share their private thoughts is an uncommon skill And considering how messy, faltering, and scatterbrained most ordinary speech is, rare talent is required to edit it into readable form while preserving the subject s voice Terkel is the ideal person for this task, able to ask probing but open ended questions, creating interviews that follow the train of the subject s thoughts without straying off topic The result is a panoramic view of people and professions, encompassing nearly every imaginable attitude towards work, representing a wide swath of the public without reducing variation to a single narrative.Books like this are especially valuable, considering how prone we are to taking work for granted Work, as an institution, is a fairly recent phenomenon, the child of the Industrial Revolution Back when the vast majority of the populace were farmers, work did not exist Farmers work very hard, of course, but the rhythm of their work is dictated by the seasons there are no set hours and no salary The way we make our living is radically different from how our ancestors did and yet work, nowadays, seems like the most natural thing in the world,eternal andimportant than marriage This lack of scrutiny is especially striking, considering that our jobs dictate our social status, consume most of our time, and are usually the number one thing we complain about.So what are the common themes of these interviews One is boredom Adam Smith famously proclaimed the economic benefits of the division of labor, which allows workers to be orders of magnitudeproductive But Smith was also wary of the dangers of this division The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. Well, as Terkel shows, this is not quite accurate Even the workers who have worked their whole lives doing very repetitive work show themselves thoughtful and sometimes brilliant in their interviews Mike Lefevre, an astonishingly articulate steelworker, saysIt isn t that the average working guy is dumb He s tired, that s allThe real danger is not stupidity, but profound boredom, which is arguably worse I know this from experience though apparently harmless, boredom can be hellish, and can wreak serious harm on your psyche And it is a ubiquitous malady, either from repetition or simple inactivity Nora Watson, an editor in an advertising agency, says Jobs are not big enough for people It s not just the assembly line worker whose job is too small for his spirit, you know A job like mine, if you really put your spirit into it, you would sabotage immediately You don t dare So you absent your spirit from it My mind has been so divorced from my job, except as a source of income, it s really absurd. Connected to this boredom is a kind of brutish narrowness Every person, even the most ordinary, is radically unique, with their own perspective, talents, and propensities Jobs, on the other hand, often require only a very limited set of skills, forcing the worker to neglect a large part of their potential and to put aside their own priorities and preferences Thus workers in this book often report feeling like machines or being dehumanized, such as Eric Nesterenko, a hockey player I know a lot of pro athletes have a capacity for a wider experience But they wanted to become champions They had to focus themselves on their one thing completely His primary force when he becomes champion is his ego trip, his desire to excel, to be somebody special To some degree, he must dehumanize himself. Some workers feel dissatisfied because of the disconnect between their jobs and the rest of their lives Kay Stepkin, director of bakery cooperative, saysI see us living in a completely schizophrenic society We live in one place, work in another place, and play in a third You have to talk differently depending on who you re talking toOther workers lament the separation of their work and the final product, such as Mike LefevreIt s hard to take pride in a bridge you re never gonna cross, in a door you re never gonna open You re mass producing things and you never see the end result of itThe common theme is social compartmentalization and the feeling of isolation that results, something that the philosopher John Lachs thinks is responsible for modern alienation.It goes without saying that inequality economic, social, political is a major source of concern Roberto Acuna, a farm worker, has this to say I began to see how everything was so wrong When growers have an intricate watering system to irrigate their crops but they can t have running water inside the houses of workers Veterinarians tend to the needs of domestic animals but they can t have medical care for the workers They can have land subsidies for the growers but they can t have adequate unemployment compensation for the workers They treat him like a farm implement In fact, they treat their implements better and their domestic animals better They have heat and insulated barns for the animals but the workers live in beat up shacks with no heat at all. Curiously, the bosses and elites on the other end of the differential, thoughsatisfied with their work, sometimes displayed alarmingly unhealthy or superficial mindsets My interest in motorcycles was for the money originally I saw this was going to be a big field Later, business becomes a game Money is the kind of way you keep score How else you gonna see yourself go up If you re successful in business, it means you re making money It gets to the point where you ve done all the things you want to do There s nothing else you want to buy anyYou get a thrill out of seeing the business grow Just building it bigger and biggerIn America, where our jobs are one of the main determinants of our social standing, it is no surprise that status anxiety plays a big role in worker dissatisfactions Dave Stribling, who works in an automobile service station, doesn t like telling people what he does What really gets you down is, you re at some place and you ll meet a person and strike up a conversation with em Naturally, sometimes during that conversation he s going to ask about your occupation, what you do for a living So this guy, he manages this, he manages that, see When I tell him and I ve seen it happen lots of times there s a kind of question mark in his head. And then there is that universal blight of modernity, the lack of meaning The feeling of being useless, of wasting your talents, of working solely for profit or a paycheck, plagued many of the subjects in this book This was most heartrending when expressed by the older subjects Steve Dubi, a steelworkers, saysWhat have I done in my forty years of work I led a useless life Here I am almost sixty years old and I don t have anything to show for itAnd here is Eddie Jaffe, a press agentI can t relax Cause when you ask a guy who s fifty eight years old, What does a press agent do you force me to look back and see what a wasted life I ve had My hopes, my aspirations what I did with them What being a press agent does to you What have I wound up with Rooms full of clippings The modern remedy for this feeling of meaninglessnes, to follow your passion, also left many feeling lost and confused Here is Sharon Atkins, a receptionistI don t know what else I d like to do That s what hurts the most That s why I can t quit this job I really don t know what talents I have I ve been fostered so long by school and didn t have time to think about itAnd some, like the unforgettable Cathleen Moran, a hospital aide, are just annoyed by the ideaI don t know any nurse s aid who likes it You say, Boy, isn t that rewarding that you re doing something for humanity I say, Don t give me that, it s a bunch of baloney I feel nothin I like it because I can watch the ball games in the afternoon By the end of this list, it is easy to see what Studs Terkel means with his opening linesThis book, being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence to the spirit as well as to the body But Working is not totally bleak There are many workers, often in very ordinary jobs, who report great satisfaction This seemed to be associated with jobs that require a lot of social interaction I experienced this myself, when I switched from a desk job to teaching It is hard to feel isolated and useless when you re constantly dealing with people Dolores Dante, a waitress, enjoys the constant waves of new customersI have to be a waitress How else can I learn about people How else does the world come to me Another obvious source of satisfaction is expertise One of the most satisfied subjects in this book is Babe Secoli, a supermarket checker She is satisfied with her work because she does it well In the days before barcodes and digital cash registers, Babe memorized all the prices in the storeI m not ashamed that I wear a uniform and nurse s shoes and that I got varicose veins I m makin an honest living Whoever looks down on me, they re lower than I am But perhaps the biggest source of satisfaction is the feeling of helping others This is what Jean Stanley, a cosmetics saleswoman, takes pleasure in, despite not considering her job very importantYou would have liked to do somethingexciting and vital, something you felt was making a contribution On the other hand, when you wait on these lonely old women and they leave with a smile and you feel you ve lifted their day, even a little, well, it has its compensations This book certainly shows its age There are many professions which no longer exist, mostly due to automation But as a portrait of work, as a modern institution, Terkel has given us something timeless. I think that in today s climate of reality TV and everyone trying to sell their story or seek their 15 minutes that the interviews for this book couldn t have been done with the un selfconsciousness with which they were done 30 plus years ago. Studs Terkel opens Working with one of the most stirring sentences I have read of late This book, being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence to the spirit as well as to the body And although Terkel s voice and narration are only present for the following 13 pages of the Introduction, giving way to 600 pages of the voices of others, the power of his intent resonates through to the back cover Those remaining 600 pages are direct transcriptions from the stories told to Terkel by his interviewees Word for word In this way, Terkel gave his subjects absolute agency At times we sense his steering of the interview and deduce the questions that he has asked the transcriptions are edited, whole paragraphs presumably left out But overall the narratives are intact, and the subjects speak directly to us as readers I found Terkel s method of empowering his subjects admirably progressive I have little doubt that this was his intention Published in the early 1970s, Working captures and seals a moment in time This moment bursts with voices and stories from workers across America It covers the spectrum of America s classes and is not at all limited to the working class that the title and even initial sentence may imply Indeed, included in this moment are firemen and CEOs, teachers and PR agents, prostitutes, homemakers, flight attendants, professors, pharmacists, cab drivers and realty brokers Much of what is captured is now an archival record of the time period, including the limited opportunities for women in the workplace and the harassment they encountered, the ongoing deindustrialization experienced by steelworkers whose jobs were being replaced by machines, the overt racism in law enforcement, and even now anachronistic work such as Bell Company phone operators But Working is powerful because of its timelessness It is and always has been, as Terkel notes, our fate as human beings to work and to work endlessly The experiences these workers recount and the emotions they they exude are personal but universal. I have an impractical desire to experience all the experiences I could go on at great length about this, but Sylvia Plath says it bestI can never read all the books I want I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want I can never train myself in all the skills I want And why do I want I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life And I am horribly limited Thankfully, there are books like Working Its pages are windows into hundreds of other minds and lives, together creating a snapshot of working class America in the early 1970s The voices of farmers, prostitutes, athletes, black and white cops, car assemblers and so many others are coaxed out and edited into coherency by Studs Turkel They offer details on how they spend their working hours, musings on their industries, and insights into the universal struggle for purpose Many people don t like their jobs They want to feel bigger than a replaceable cog in the machine This leads to many bleak and repetitive accounts, but it makes those who take pride in their work all therefreshing, like the grocery store clerk who does a little dance as she checks out items, or the stonemason who daydreams about the technical challenges of building a house entirely of stone Passion is infectious, even when it concerns cans of green beans and lumps of rock, and it s a reminder to find a way to let our souls shine through our work instead of being repressed by it I will never be a switchboard operator in 1972 But now I have a vague idea of what that experience was like, and I feel a little less limited. Short little 1 2 4 page interviews with people about their jobs There is the stockbroker that admits getting into the stocks is going to have you losing money, the housewife, the executive secretary this was published n the 70s , the mason, hotel operator, newspaper carrier It s interesting esp because it also is a glimpse into 30 years ago but also just intersting for people to talk about their work Not everyone s happy, not everyone s unhappy with their jobs but Stud Terkel does an admirable job of portraying each of them through text, their personalities, their hopes and fears are well defined, and that is what makes it most interesting I have to admit that the short pieces was also appealing to me, I like to pick out a story or two read them, put it down, pick out another He has created sections like communications etc which is better than blue collar white collar or by industry There are certain jobs shoe stocker which entails getting a shoe order, finding all the shoes on the order and sending them out, that I never really thought about, then again I m not sure they are around any Only 4 stars so far as it can get a tad bit boring, the stock broker goes on for 5 or 6 pages and I don t think is necessaryA bit depressing, good god doesn t anyone like what they do And even when they do sometimes it s depressing the lives they lead and stuff I think this is going to go out the door after I read it even if it s good as I just couldn t bear to read it again I makes me want to sit down and cry for some of these poor folks Not really but you know what I mean. Have you ever imagined what being a mustachioed New York cop in the 70s was like Or how it feels to labour as a Springsteen esque steelworker How about as a stonemason If you ve ever idly wondered about any of these things, or about sundry other ways that people make a living, you can t pass Working up This book earns its big reputation Working will transport you, not just into the working lives of others, but into a different, and in many ways alien, era the United States of the 1960s and 70s.This is a phenomenal window into the lives of others Turkel interviewed flight hostesses, steelworkers, company presidents, admen, autoworkers, the unemployed, janitors, gravediggers, community organisers, cops the list goes on, and almost every interview is a winner Everyone has a story, and in this book those stories are fascinating, inspiring and sometimes terribly sad Each interview is presented with minimal interjection from Turkel, and for the most part they are unadorned The character and voice of each person, with their verbal tics and slang, is pure on the page Beyond the individual human stories, this book is a sometimes shocking portal into what is by 2016 standards a grossly sexist and racist time Forget Mad Men this is the unvarnished sixties and seventies, and beyond the bell bottoms and mustaches there is a great deal of ugliness A flight hostess details how if she got a blemish, or put on any weight she would be stood down from work she also discusses being encouraged to smoke in her training, and specific lessons on how best to let a man light one s cigarette Policemen discuss the racism they saw other cops displaying, their prejudices against and attacks on minorities and the poor, and sometimes against their own black colleagues Other workers discuss the ways their jobs physically crushed them The slow progress of workplace safety in this era was clearly too slow for many men and women whose backs gave out, whose health was broken on the wheel of work.Some of this awfulness made me hopeful, considering how far we ve come since then in workplace gender rights my mother was fired from a cookie factory job when she became pregnant with me in 1980, something which could never happen today In others it saddened me the foundations for present day unresolved race issues are clearly visible, and precarious work is still as depressing and life limiting for people in 2016 as it was decades ago.I really can t recommend this book enough At the end of Working I felt like I had gotten to know fifty or sixty people, that I had shared their dreams, their fears and their frustrations For a few hours I got to vividly live the lives of others, and really, whatcan you ask of a book than that My shittiest jobs, in order 1 For one summer, at the Northeastern Illinois University library, I wrote tiny symbols on adhesive labels Later I attached these labels to government documents 2 Brown s Chicken.3 Mrs Field s Cookies.I ve often said that my primary motivation for attending college involved avoiding meaningless employment I m one of those people who grows near suicidal if I have to do rote tasks for the money necessary for food and shelter I m flat out scared of a shitty job In turn, Stud Terkel s Working is, in my eyes, one of the most important books I ve ever read Nearly 700 pages of often moving, intense interviews with workers across all sectors and income levels, Working functions both as an important historical document and impetus for raising vital questions about how we spend our time on this planet.Terkel stays largely out of the way of his interviewees they seem surprised as they arrive at their own responses, as if they ve not thought this deeply before about, say, selling cars, working in a factory, or leading a corporation I want to learnabout Terkel s process did he remove most of his questions in the transcription process so the interviews seemlike cohesive monologues Did he stay silent and let the subject talk without direction Working is as much about each subject s deep individuality as a broad survey of the 1970s era American workforce Subjects take pride in their jobs, hate their jobs, describe horrible, to me nearly unlivable conditions, and try to explain why they do what they do when they go to work They describe bureaucratic idiocy and their positions on unions Terkel pushes union talk hard but return to what they get or fail to get from the hours they spend at work One interviewee says, about her job, you want it to be a million things that it s not and you want to give it a million parts of yourself that nobody wants there So you end up wrecking the curve or else settling down and conforming How unspeakably sad, our working lives, for so many generations, for so many centuries How terrifying that we could live out our lives doing shit we hate Yet most of the interviewees either put on a brave face or manage to retain their humanity even in difficult circumstances I want my kids to read these books in high school so, even if they re not quite ready for all the nuances, they learn how important joy and meaning are, I hope, to their careers.Although this book s forty years old and its terminology seems dated, Working isthan a set of interviews It s a profound exploration into how we spend a significant chunk of our lives Highly recommended.