Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do
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Perhaps Studs Terkel’s best-known book, Working is a compelling, fascinating look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews conducted with everyone from gravediggers to studio heads, this book provides a timeless snapshot of people’s feelings about their working lives, as well as a relevant and lasting look at how work fits into American life.
take the car off the premises, which I never did myself. ’Course, when you got five or six men there, it might be one might go off. I was sittin’ in that guy-with-the-tuxedo car. He got out of it, him an’ his girl friend goin’ night clubbing. And that car smelling real good with cologne and the windows be up. And I just be looking in that car, you know, the music be up. I’d pull back in the lot, back to the front, maybe I’ll go back in the stall. I’d say, “Why can’t I be a rich man, get me a lot
people are comin’ in from all angles. Oh, the thrill been gone, oh, fifteen years. I do my work because I know I have to work. Every now and then I have to rub myself down or my wife rubs me down with alcohol. I might last another four, five years at most. I was so good when I was nineteen, twenty. A guy bet me five dollars that when a certain car came in I wouldn’t make a hole. I had one hand and I whipped it into that hole, and I did it three times for him. Another guy said, “You’re too short
and slightly ahead of those in engineering. But that isn’t it . . . When people ask what I do, I tell them I’m an accountant. It sounds better than auditor, doesn’t it? (Laughs.) But it’s not a very exciting business. What can you say about figures? (Laughs.) You tell people you’re an accountant—(his voice deliberately assumes a dull monotone) “Oh, that’s nice.” They don’t know quite what to say. (Laughs.) What can you say? I could say, “Wow! I saw this company yesterday and their balance sheet,
nine months of the year as a member of the Virginia Slims Professional Women’s Circuit. “It’s Women’s Lib, you’ve come a long way baby. Yeah. There’s been quite a discussion about a cigarette company sponsoring a sporting event. What can you say? Some of the girls smoke, some don’t. It’s just a way of promoting tennis. We’re not promoting smoking.” When the women organized their own circuit, they were blacklisted by the United States Lawn Tennis Association. “The officials of USLTA are very
good and somebody comes up—“Hello, Eric”—I’m at times a bit cold and abrupt. I can see them withdrawing from me, hurt. They want to be plugged into something and they’re not. They may make a slurring remark. I can’t do anything about it. I’m fighting the cynicism. What I’d like to do is find an alter-life and play a little more. I don’t have another vocation. I have a feeling unless I find one, my life might be a big anticlimax. I could get a job, but I don’t want a job. I never had a job in the