We have all heard the old joke, "I'm not afraid of hard work--I can stand there and watch it for hours!" Is it possible that today we have bred such a generation of wimps that there are people who are not only incapable of performing hard work---but who cannot even stand to see it done by others?
Let me tell you a story. Many years ago, I was working as a young construction worker. I was a construction electrician, an IBEW Journeyman Wireman doing industrial work. One day there was a call for a crew to replace the electrical service at a new office building. This was a long, one-story building. We were having a heat wave---the temperature was close to 100 Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity was nearly 100 percent. The air conditioning equipment in this new office building had overloaded the electrical service, and it had failed.
The plan was to replace the original service entrance conductors with three 500 MCM copper cables, along with a 350 MCM cable for the neutral conductor. A 500 MCM cable is a stranded cable about the diameter of a broom handle, not counting the insulation, and it weighs about 4 lbs per foot. We had brought one large reel of 500 MCM cable which was set up on jacks, and we were stringing out, measuring, and cutting each of the three conductors to be used. The building had a long central corridor, and we would pull the cable off the reel which was set up at one end of the corridor. After we had cut them to length, we needed to drag the cables further down the corridor to feed them into the conduit. An electric winch would actually draw the cables into the pipe, but human muscle power was needed to drag the tail ends down the corridor to where they could be drawn into the pipe.
We had four strong, healthy young men, including me, and two older guys, One old guy ran the winch, one lubricated the cable as it went into the pipe. But each cable had one young man to drag it down this long, carpeted corridor. At four pounds per foot, a 200 ft (61 meter) length of cable weighs 800 pounds (300 Kg). Even if you are not trying to lift it, even if you are just dragging it, it requires a pretty strenuous effort. We were leaned into the work, leaned over at about 30 degrees to vertical, were stripped to the waist, and were sweating profusely. But we had no complaint. We were just four healthy young guys giving our muscles a good workout. And besides, we were construction workers. Hard work is what we do.
But the corridor walls were glass from floor to ceiling, and on the other side were a hundred office workers, mostly women, at their desks. And they seemed appalled-- even shocked at what they saw. It was as though hard, physical labor was some form of violence, or perhaps a kind of bodily function that polite people did not do in public. A couple of women became so upset they ran to the bathroom to vomit. Not only had these people never done hard work--- they had never even seen it--and it upset them.