Business Week has a great article regarding why some Americans choose not to do “dirty jobs.” Money quote:
Massey says Americans didn’t turn away from the work merely because it was hard or because of the pay but because they had come to think of it as beneath them. “It doesn’t have anything to do with the job itself,” he says. In other countries, citizens refuse to take jobs that Americans compete for. In Europe, Massey says, “auto manufacturing is an immigrant job category. Whereas in the States, it’s a native category.”
Articles like this remind me of my first job – not working in a poultry factory or picking crops but still a job no one wanted.
While in high school, a buddy and I worked as the maintenance crew for a pool equipment manufacturing company in Los Angeles. We essentially cleaned administrative offices, vacuumed, etc. However, our job also included cleaning the manufacturing floor bathrooms on a daily basis.
With 99% of the production floor being men, you can imagine it wasn’t the most wholesome environment. On many days, the bathroom needed to be cleaned twice during our short four hour stay. Since we were teenagers, and many of the men thought it was funny, they would urinate on the floor, toss soiled toilet tissues on the floor, and leave behind overflowing toilets. And yet, we did our jobs.
When we finally “moved up” to a different job in the company (shipping and receiving!), we were occasionally asked to clean the bathrooms because either our replacements quit or others refused.