Three different readers have sent me this article by Matthew Crawford from the New York Times magazine. The title speaks for itself: “The Case for Working With Your Hands.”
I am totally on Crawford’s side. I even think he understates his case. Most people — well, most men, I am sure, and not a few women too — are ill-suited to office work, and would be happier doing something active or manual. I can’t work for long at a desk. I have to get up and make something, or fix something. That’s what I’ve mostly been doing the last couple of days, in fact: replacing a door, rearranging my basement, turning over my compost heap. In my single years I would sometimes take a break from office work and sign up as a laborer on construction sites for a few weeks.
The modern ideal is: Sit at a school desk for twelve years listening to teachers. Then sit at a college desk for four years listening to professors. In your vacations, get a job as an intern at some legal or financial firm, sitting at a desk reading depositions or corporate reports. Then go out into the “knowledge economy” and get a job sitting at a desk in a cube, hoping one day to have a bigger desk in a corner office.
Perhaps it suits some people. To me, it’s a vision of hell.