Yet in contrast to this woman's situation, we have an abundance of "jobs Americans don't want to do." Apparently, we've had a cultural shift from one generation to another - Americans (or rather, to be precise, white males, according to this LA Times article) don't see manual labor as something they wish to do - even if that labor is well paid (unless of course, the white males have felony convictions or are extremely down on their luck).
I can understand the disdain of manual labor to a certain extent - physical labor is hard and hurts your body over the long haul. And my generation, the baby boom generation, was encouraged to reach further than our parents. In fact, coming off the heels of WWII, flush with victory and a sense of "we can do it" and the promise of a new age and new opportunities, our parents strove to provide better for us - to provide us a springboard from which we could achieve more than they had. The American Dream kicked into high gear: Education and a white-collar job. Home-ownership. A big car (and perhaps a second) in the garage. A color tv and hi-fi stereo. And with all of that, the American Dream turned definitively middle class and white collar.
But I did my share of manual labor as a teen and young adult: Worked as a gardner, a housecleaner, and as an untrained nurse's aid, helping old ladies in and out of bed, the bath, the shower, running breakfast trays up and down stairs, emptying and cleaning commodes. My brother spent a summer digging ditches though he was well-paid for his labor and treated kindly by his boss.
Most young people today would not work such jobs; they are above such lowly work.
My son, however, is working as a day laborer now - he is unskilled, under-educated - following a wandering path that worries me. He lives in Arizona (truly the Wild West he tells me, where quite a few of the young people he knows routinely carry guns). He gets up at 4:00AM, goes to the day laborer spot and competes with dozens of men (and boys) for a long, hard day's work at $5.25 an hour. His last job was digging ditches. He, along with four others, was selected by 5:00AM, loaded into a truck and driven for an hour to the job site, out in the Arizona desert, which is quite cold early in the morning. He and his coworkers stood about until 9:00 AM, warming themselves by a makeshift fire, until the boss showed up with equipment. Then the work began. They worked steadily through the morning as temperatures rose to the 90s, got an hour off for lunch, and worked again until 4PM, when the boss collected the equipment. The laborers stood around until 5PM, when the truck came to transport them back to the pick-up spot. The boss deducted $2 from each worker's pay (transportation costs). No one complained as this is all under the table and if you complain, you won't get work again. Kid got home at 7PM. Though his day was about 15 hours long, he worked only 6, making $31.50 that day (before transportation fees). This is no way to make a living.
Seems as though we have "jobs Americans won't do" because these jobs pay so poorly and have appalling work conditions as well. But as the LA Times article points out, we won't do them even if we are well-paid for such work. And why is that? Because we view them as making us "less than," regardless of the pay. We attach a stigma to these jobs - they are only fit for parolees and illegals, for the uneducated, the losers, the disenfranchised among us.
But why should anyone receive such little pay and work under such harsh conditions? Except of course, it provides the "boss" with an advantage - cheap labor and larger profits. And except of course, sometimes such harsh, low-paying jobs, are the ony ones some folks can get.
Something's wrong with this picture in a variety of ways.