Friday, June 03, 2005

How To Use a Shovel

"Yeah, well the world needs ditchdiggers too"--Judge Smales, Caddyshack

There seems to be a tremendous bias in this country against manual labor. Many people that I've met could learn something from the most simple of tools - the shovel.

I cannot find any references to when the shovel was actually "invented". It must go back to ancient times, but if some student of archeology could provide more background it would be appreciated.

There are two tricks to using a shovel:

1) You must work hard. Really no way around it. Even creative uses of angles and pressure points cannot remove the effort around accomplishing your goal. For example, when planning a shrub the hole always has to be wider and deeper than you first imagine. Inevitably, you must dig longer than expected. Even in the dead of winter you'll break a good sweat - or you are not working hard enough.

2) You need to know how to reverse the blade to get a right angle dig into the earth - or you work too hard. People that try to dig without an occasional flip and downward jab generally do not reach their goal. Worse yet, they hire someone to do it for them. Pure laziness.

The real challenge comes when digging a proper ditch. A good ditch is straight with symmetrical sides. It is deep enough to accomplish your task - but not so deep as to waste effort. A ditch most likely is for drainage or for holding some sort of pipe or electrical wire. Regardless, you should treat it with respect. Unlike many tasks in life a ditch has a start, a finish and a purpose. Ask yourself how many things the typical white collar worker does during the day that cannot pass that test?

So the next time you see someone using a shovel please treat them with respect. They likely are doing something in the long run more important that you are and certainly are working hard - what more can you ask?

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