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Collar

A story of occupational transition.

Collar

Foul-weather suits and utility boots,
heavy denim and stiff leather gloves,
hot summer sweat, maybe freezing or wet –
the conditions that no worker loves.

Solid and fit since there’s no time to sit,
tough as nails from laborious toil,
permanent stains from the days when it rains
and it mixes with clay-laden soil.

You work ten a day for a week’s worth of pay
and you seldom come down from the top –
you keep up the pace like you’re running a race
and you push ‘till you’re ready to drop.

The money you make for the chances you take
pays you far above minimum wage –
it’s a lucrative skill that so few want to fill
and a job that gets harder with age.

It’s not a surprise that to work neath the skies
would eventually levy its toll –
a soft place to be, one with heat and AC,
would present an alternative goal.

A softer domain that’s resistant to rain,
not a forklift or ladder in sight,
no safety-concerns, gashes, bruises or burns –
where a blue collar turns into white.

From arduous fare to a desk and a chair,
open spaces to sheltered abode,
from big, heavy tools to political rules –
quite a difference from life on the road.

You’ll need to comply with a shirt and a tie,
fancy shoes in exchange for the boots –
and dress to the max with some double-knit slacks,
if your interest is grander pursuits.

It’s best that you choose every word that you use,
since you’re no longer out it the field –
or terms you project may be deemed incorrect
and your heritage fully revealed.

You may get some flak for the polish you lack –
but you’re known for the skills you’ve retired,
the lands you’ve surveyed, reputation you’ve made
and the souls that your words have inspired.

Weathered and wise – they can see in your eyes
that you have little patience for fear,
that you’re not going to break from the mission you take
as you seek to advance your career.

A long way to go, but you take what you know
and acquire any others you need –
and like you would do when your collar was blue,
you’ll be given a new team to lead.

You wear different clothes but your character shows,
in your heart is a passion that burns –
you’ll always do best when you’re put to the test
and your efforts give solid returns.

Whenever it suits, you’ll remember your roots
and the lessons you’ll carry for life –
the traits you attained while your body was strained
in a climate of physical strife.

Work-calloused hands are your personal brands
and a sign of the dues that you’ve paid –
the strength of your shake with each contact you make
is an asset – regardless of trade.

Polished and neat, the transition – complete,
on the surface you look like your peers,
you’ve had to retool as you swim in a pool
with accountants and young engineers.

But the collar you wear is a hybrid affair
with some elements bound to remain,
it’s not white or blue, but a tint ‘tween the two –
when your sweat left a permanent stain.

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