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My Hands Have Gotten Soft (don't tell my dad)

Updated: May 7, 2019

My hands have gotten soft. When I was a teenager my hands were leathered with calluses. I had barely any feeling in my fingertips. My leathered hands were from carrying concrete blocks all summer and my fingertips were heat tolerant from working in the kitchen of a great local Italian restaurant. I bought a pair of work gloves once, before we got to the job site, and when I got in the truck with them, my dad looked at them, laughed, looked back at the road and said, ”gloves are for…” well, maybe we won’t say what my dad said. Let’s just say it was the last pair of gloves I bought.

The truth was his sentiment was right. That pair of gloves lasted only three days. They were no match for the coarse, 35 lb. concrete blocks I would stock all day long. What was worse, when we were stocking from scaffolding it wouldn’t be uncommon for the inevitable tears in the gloves to catch on the block, sometimes almost pulling you off the scaffolding. So, I forewent the gloves and let nature take its course and build natural protection. It’s amazing how adaptable the body can be and how strong it can get. It’s also amazing how quickly it can fade and get…well…soft.

I needed to dig a trench to carry water from my filters to the woods rather than how they currently run through a small pipe into my side yard. The amount of rain, and the fact that our water is so poor that I need two filter tanks that empty nightly into my side yard has made it so I can barely run my lawn tractor without getting stuck. After about only 15 minutes I noticed the familiar burn of an oncoming blister. I grabbed a pair of gloves to finish the job, but the “damage” had already been done. But, it got me to thinkin’…(sorry I’m watching a western…I do love westerns because they’re so darn tough) we are really getting soft as a nation. I know you don’t need me to tell you that, but it does relate to something I think is important to Goochland County.

As a county supervisor I will work very hard with the Goochland County School Board to celebrate and equip students not only for college but to help change the stigma and celebrate those entering the trades. During my participation in the Goochland Leadership Enterprise, we were fortunate enough to be able to tour the Goochland Career and Technical Education center. What is going on there is nothing short of incredibly impressive. The students are engaged and excited and we need to celebrate their career paths. We should be as willing to write an article in the Gazette for someone landing a job in the skilled trades as we are for someone who is going off to college. I will be a strong advocate for supporting our young citizens in taking the very essential and necessary careers in the skilled trades.

I remember one of my last weeks at home before college. I was working in the kitchen with several of my friends and none of us were going to the same place in the fall. Three of my friends were at one end of the kitchen talking about moving away and I was at the other end beside one of the waitresses and she heard what they were saying and then looked at me. She said in the most sincere and caring tone, “It’s ok Neil, we need good trades people too.” I looked at her and smiled and said “Wendy, I’m going to the University of Pittsburgh.” Dumbfounded she said, “I had no idea you were smart.” Thirty-one years later I still remember that ninety second conversation and she was right, we do need good trades people and as a society we need to celebrate them because without them, there aren’t enough DIY YouTube videos to keep this country going.

Found a great blog article the does a great job celebrating great young people moving forward with exciting new careers....

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