Matthew - USA
Entered on December 14, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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(The Instruction Manual by John Ashbury)

As I sit looking out of a window of the building

I wish I did not have to write the instruction manual

on the uses

of a new metal.

I look down into the street and see people, each

walking with an

inner peace,

And envy them–they are so far away from me!

Not one of them has to worry about getting out this

manual on


I believe that blue-collar work is forced by a pressure to consume. When I think of holding a steady job as an adult, it is hard to even imagine doing something I don’t find interesting.

As a dedicated college student, I hope the range of jobs available to me will expand greatly. For some, only few jobs are available and they are forced to take any job they can get. Without money, it is very hard to get by. We resort to taking the best possible job we can, for the benefit of ourselves, and our loved ones. Why does someone have to work in a hot, uncomfortable factory just so his or her family can have a meal? It is because our country has a working class where the privileged are able to prosper and the impoverished are usually left in despair.

I believe that a child from the inner city should be given an equal opportunity to prosper as a child from a wealthy suburb. It is my belief that what you do in the first years of your life until the end of high school almost surely determines the potential you will have to be successful in the working world. Once you get to a certain age, if you have not worked hard enough or been given opportunities, you’re stuck.

By being successful, I mean being able to prosper economically. With money comes comfort, unfortunately. With money comes the flat screens, and senseless electronics we depend on to live happily. Simple human interaction cannot replace “pure picture quality” or “high speed internet”.

No matter the income, most of us are forced to work. No one is going to lash you on the back. Rather, it is the pursuit of happiness that is our master. Money is our master and our motivation. If there was no job competition, and the people of the United States could work as they pleased, a select few might spend their time “writing instruction manuals” (Ashbury). America’s blue-collar workers have a “do what I have to do” mentality. If the only job available is instruction manual writing, then they will take it, for the sake of themselves and their loved ones

These sacrifices turn into a never-ending cycle in which families of a certain income may stay stuck in that level for generations. When you think about it, if a family is privileged, they can nurture their children, send them to better schools, and put them in environments where they can grow intellectually. Therefore, the success they have early in life translates into a college education and a higher income job. On the other hand, in a low income household, a single parent working at a low-wage job cant send their children to private school. The schools in inner city are notoriously known for having worse facilities and lower academic excellence than others. This immediately puts a child in a situation where they are more likely to end up working a low-wage job like their parent.

Objectively, work cycles are a constraint. Workers of all intensities are constrained by their families and society’s expectations. The wealthy are expected to pass on wealth and success, and the poor are expected to pass on nothing relevant to success in this “world of work”.

Just as slaves escaped from slavery, I believe we can escape from this cycle of greed, consumption, and meaningless work. If we can look ourselves in the mirror and convince ourselves that money isn’t the key to happiness, hopefully we can take a step in the right direction. We shouldn’t “envy” anyone, but instead “accept” anyone.