I’m always surprised when I’m out with a friend and then run into another friend, only to find out that those two friends know each other—but, I didn’t introduce them! It’s like two of my worlds have collided and it blows my mind every single time. But, the same thing happens when I assume everyone knows the same information that I know, when they don’t. The most recent instance of this was at one of our Give Me Five celebrations when I was encouraging the grant recipients to attend Gas City Concerts in the Park to enjoy live music and feast on an elephant ear or a pork tenderloin sandwich. It was then that one grant recipient said, “What’s an elephant ear?”—again my mind was blown!
We make those simple mistakes often when we come from a small community like Grant County. It’s easy to readily complain about what didn’t work or what we don’t like. But, we completely forget to boast about what is awesome about our hometown because we just assume everyone already knows. Alas, that’s not so.
It was at this Give Me Five celebration that we hosted a couple of new Grant County residents who recently moved here from California. Neither one of them had ever heard of an elephant ear or eaten a Hoosier pork tenderloin! It was just like this video I recently watched of Californians tasting Indiana foods for the first time. In the video, after tasting Sugar Cream Pie (btw, a great recipe for this Hoosier favorite can be found in our Annual Report), one friend threatened to unfollow her fellow taste-tester if he took more than half, while another simply licked the plate. It’s hilarious! When it came to the Hoosier Pork Tenderloin, one participant with a marketing mind said that we should hand these out as people get off the plane in Indiana just like they hand out leis when you arrive in Hawaii—not a bad idea! Another one said, until I ate a giant Hoosier pork tenderloin on those itty-bitty buns, “I had not lived as a person”!
See what I mean? Sometimes we just take really awesome things for granted! Take your common, everyday work ethic, for example. Perhaps we assume everyone has it, so we don’t talk about it much. Alas, that’s not so.
I think Mike Rowe, from Dirty Jobs fame, realized this last week when he discovered that an upscale department store was selling these dirty jeans—the Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans–with the fake mud baked right in, for $425.
As Rowe says, “Not real mud. Fake mud. Something to foster the illusion of work. The illusion of effort. Or perhaps, for those who actually buy them, the illusion of sanity.” At $425 a pop, that sanity thing sure does ring true!
But, what troubles Rowe more than people purchasing faux jeans that make them look like they’ve done faux work is the notion that the highly-praised work ethic of America’s past is not a reality in America’s present.
Case in point would be how Hasbro, the makers of Monopoly, recently announced they are replacing three iconic symbols of the historic U.S. workforce in this classic American game—they’re hauling off the wheelbarrow, booting the boot, and giving a thumbs-down to the thimble. Instead we are left with a penguin, a rubber ducky, and a T-Rex. T-Rific. If these tokens are in any way symbolic of our future, we may be doomed.
Could this be a metaphor that hard work no longer has a monopoly in American culture? It does make you wonder if people still know how good it feels to put in an honest day’s work. Does a hard day of labor still bring about economic advantages as well as a sense of personal pride?
With scores of students commencing to don graduation caps this spring, I would hope adopting a good work ethic isn’t something that they’re doing for the first time as they enter college or the workforce. Mike Rowe outlines how important work ethic is in any job through his S.W.E.A.T.–Skill and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo—Pledge. They’re all good, but I’m partial to #12 in his Pledge, which basically says it’s important to work your itty-bitty buns off. I think that’s something worthy of passing down from generation to generation, don’t you?