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Flying under the radar

We can’t live without them, but we seldom recognize the work they do, at least publicly.

Everyone wants to heap praise on the star athlete, the rock star with the golden pipes and the academic achiever, but what about the hard-working tradesmen, the plumbers, electricians, carpenters, mechanics and others who make our everyday lives so much easier.

Not everyone desires to go to college, whether by choice or design, and most of these tradesmen are as smart in their own way as any rocket scientist.

Take it from me, someone who can’t draw a straight line without a ruler or draw a circle without a compass.

Back in the day, everyone was pushing for a college education saying it was vital to one’s chances at a better life. 

I recall one television public service ad when I was growing up, a scenario featuring Abraham Lincoln in a job interview.

The interviewer asks Honest Abe about his academic background to which he replies, “I’ve done a lot of studying on my own.”

“You’re not going anywhere without that sheepskin fella,” the interviewer told a dejected Lincoln.

I was in a restaurant late one Saturday evening in Richmond years ago when a plumber came in to fix a clogged drain.

I remember the smirks of derision from some yuppie types sitting at the bar followed by a few snide comments referring to the perceived social status of the gentleman in question.

Remembering my mother’s advice not to say anything if I couldn’t say anything nice, I chose not to answer the bar flies, but I could have told them the “lowly” plumber they were making fun of was probably making double pay considering the day and hour.

As I said before, not everyone aspires to be a rocket scientist, attorney, accountant or business tycoon, and there’s nothing wrong with ambition.

Some choose to take advantage of their God-given talents and become plumbers, electricians or mechanics, and with the advance of technology even those fields require more training than ever before.

Despite my reliance on computers and digital cameras at my job, I still refer to myself as technologically challenged, particularly when it comes to mechanics.

I can’t carry a tune, either, and when I try to sing in the shower the water turns off on its own, but that’s a story for another day.

We’re in the midst of graduation season, whether high school or college, and my kudos and congratulations to all who receive diplomas.

I wish the best of luck to those who choose to pursue a college education and beyond, and I wish the best of luck to those entering the military to serve our country.

I also commend those receiving GEDs and those pursuing a vocational education to keep the lights burning, the engines running, and oh yes, the toilets flushing.

We can’t do without you.