- Series: Norton Paperbacks
- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised edition (January 17, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393315576
- ISBN-13: 978-0393315578
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How to Tell When You're Tired: A Brief Examination of Work (Norton Paperbacks) Paperback – January 17, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
PW called this memoir and polemic by a retired longshoreman and "fruit tramp" a "refreshing look at the workplace by a seasoned expert."
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Theriault, a former migrant fruit picker and a longshoreman for 30 years, has written this humorous treatise on hard physical labor as a way of life. He gives voice to the thoughts and conditions of the laboring classes and examines the constant struggle for respect and autonomy, the tendency of management to treat workers as merely one part of the production process, the penchant of unions to bargain away the wrong things, the awful grinding tedium and danger, and the sense of accomplishment realized from doing a piece of work right. Theriault's engaging, moving defense of the working class's right to its portion of credit for building our civilization is inspiring. All secondary career education courses should include this title on their required reading lists, making this appropriate for academic as well as public libraries.
Susan Awe, Jefferson Cty. P.L. System, Arvada, Col.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Theriault's primary job before retirement was working as a longshoreman in San Francisco. But he was also a "fruit tramp" (a migrant picker) and an occasional factory worker. His credentials as a "blue collar worker," then, are impeccable, and he distills thirty-odd years of experience in heavy physical labor into his book. His two primary conclusions are these: (1) salary is important, but freedom is too. Workers caught in an assembly line kind of job where they're nothing more than anonymous cogs in a Taylorite efficiency machine are more likely to rebel than workers dissatisfied with money. (2) the relationship between labor and management always reduces to the following dynamic: "Management is going to get more out of you than it gives in return. This is a fact of life, and one might as well accept it. If management does not get more--for instance, if it gets less--then why in the hell should it stick around? Your goal is to see that management does not get too much more." (pp. 96-97) Both of these conclusions, although they may appear obvious when pointed out, ought to be kept in mind when thinking about working conditions in this country, not to mention the foreign sweatshops that make so many commodities we North Americans buy.
Along the way, Theriault reflects on the disappearing blue collar working class; differences between blue and white collar workers; worries that for too many people, work is "a hole in their lives"; tells the hilarious but also poignant story of Billy's lost finger; and reminds us of the good/bad old days of labor by telling old-timer stories told to him when he was a boy.
All in all, a remarkable book. And the photograph on the cover is as gripping an image as I've ever seen.
Though I am unable to verify his statistics I was still astonished at the number of so called "white collar" workers that applied for jobs in San Francisco when the Stevedores Union opened up their hiring a few years ago.
Interesting thoughts and concepts abound, but I found remarkably similar parallels between "cube Jockeys" and the manual labor workers the author is so familiar with. Certainly worth the read.
Steve in Austin, Tx.