One of the reasons why trade workers are in short supply is because the trades have a reputation as being “gritty” work. The word gritty in this context gets interpreted as hard and dirty.
I won’t sugarcoat it. To some extent, this is true. Trade work does involve more physical effort than desk jobs, and yes, trade workers do encounter a fair amount of dirt and grime on their job sites.
I’d like to draw attention to another side of the word “gritty.” It derives from “grit,” which also means perseverance and determination. Some of you may be familiar with the popular movie, “True Grit,” originally filmed in 1969 with John Wayne in the starring role and followed by a 2010 remake starring Jeff Bridges. It’s the story of a teenage girl who hires a hard and grizzled former U.S. Marshal to track down her father’s killer. The Marshal was a good man but tough enough to take on some of the worst bad guys of the Wild West.
It’s that kind of grit that most trade workers exemplify. You won’t hear many of them complain about sore muscles, difficult jobs and mean bosses. Trade workers typically are proud of what they do and shrug off any hardships as the reason they are paid so well.
Another analogy can be made with the U.S. Marine Corps. Their slogan is, “The Few, the Proud.” They are the smallest of the U.S. Armed Forces and their recruits are subjected to the toughest training. My friends include several former Marines, and after listening to their tales I can assure you that there is no such thing as an ex-Marine. Those who endure the hardships and serve with honor live the rest of their lives with a sense of inner strength.
And so it is with trade workers. I’ve known some who spent a few years working a trade, then moved on to different careers. Yet, when they reminisce about days gone by, their stories are filled with trade projects they have worked on.
Don’t be afraid of gritty jobs. Wear it as a badge of honor.