The Plaid-Collar Worker
You've heard of the blue-collar worker. These are the electricians, mechanics, construction workers, and servicemen who do the manual labor that keeps our lights on, roads paved, cars running, and houses built. They’re paid by the hour and often don’t have fancy degrees or letters behind their names. But they keep our day-to-day lives running smoothly.
Then there are the folks who can wear a white shirt to work and--barring a rogue spray of mustard—that shirt won’t be dirty at 5 o'clock. These are the office workers who sit at desks and push paper--lawyers, insurance guys, sales people. Many of them have been to college, have a framed degree on the wall and collect a salaried paycheck at the end of the month.
Often, there’s a tension between the two groups—an attitude that one group is better than the other. White-collar folks can see themselves as more educated, more evolved, even more important than the blues. And blue-collar workers, who thrive off their ability to manipulate the physical world, can think of themselves as more capable than the white-collar folks.
While it’s easy to think your group is the important one—the one that makes the economy function--if you’re honest, you know that both groups are necessary for the world to run the way we’re used to it running. We need people who can build houses AND people who can create budgets. We need people who can manufacture clothing AND people who can insure the manufacturing equipment.
Enter the plaid shirt: the great equalizer
When it comes to working with the poor and downtrodden, you have to be able to engage different perspectives. Everyone has to contribute if the kingdom of heaven is to BE here on earth.
I would propose that a plaid collar fills this gap.
The great thing about the plaid collar is that we all wear it. When the weekend hits, it doesn't matter if you’re a man or a woman, a doctor, mechanic, lawyer, or farmer. We put on our plaid shirts, and we’re equals.
I never thought about this until recently, but I wear plaid almost every day. I think it's because it's somewhere between the two worlds in which I work.
I know Nicaraguans who toil under sun in the cane fields of the San Antonio Sugar Plantation. They wear long sleeves to protect their skin from the sun. Those shirts are often plaid. I know lawyers here in the US who exchange the suit on weekends for an old plaid shirt they've had for years.
Plaid is the great equalizer. It spans gender, continents, salaries, and racial barriers.
White, blue, or plaid, there is a way for you to contribute to the alleviation of poverty around the world.