About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

A Labor Day Tale of Two Collars

Growing up near Detroit, with a father who worked at the Ford plant and a grandfather who worked in a steel mill, labor means something to you.

When the autoworkers were on strike, I would hear strike updates on the great AM superstation out of Windsor, Ontario, CKLW. In between songs by the Archies and the Poppy Family and Three Dog Night, I could tell Dad the latest news about the strike. I felt important.

In the 1990s my grandmother entered a nursing home. I was appointed guardian and conservator. Getting to that point was stressful, involving a lot of paperwork. I met often with an attorney, David Zelenak. We had lots of conversations in his office and en route to the City-County Building in Detroit.

One day the talk turned to the Rouge Plant, which is what the Ford plant was called, located near the Rouge River in the city of Dearborn, Michigan. When you grew up Downriver, the name for the industrial southern suburbs of Detroit, you were connected to the Rouge Plant by somebody.  A father, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle.

Zelenak, who was about my age, said in the 1970s he spent his summers earning money for law school at Wayne State University by working at the Rouge Plant. To this day, he said, his siblings have him change the oil in their vehicles because he’s the only one who knows how to do it.

Today you don’t find many professionals who can bridge the blue collar and white collar worlds. I wonder what summer jobs college students fill today. And how many autoworkers have the ability, or peace of mind, to take a summer vacation. The back-of-mind thought being, if I can be replaced for one or two weeks, maybe I’m not needed.

To all blue-collar workers, thank you. And enjoy a hard-fought Labor Day. To all white-collar workers, a reminder: we're not far removed from blue. 

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