PITTSBURG — Few country music fans would fail to recognize the lyrics of the Alabama hit, Forty Hour Week.
“There are people in this country who work hard every day,” Alabama croons. “Not for fame or fortune do they strive.
“But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay. And it's time a few of them were recognized ...”
The lyrics have been a rallying cry for hard working Americans for years. While the need for the community to acknowledge these people, especially on Labor Day is obvious, less so is why they do their jobs, and what they deeply enjoy about them.
The answers are wide and varying. Some like trash collector Brad Annis, and city employee Willie Oliver, are just doing their jobs and having a good time doing it.
Others, like school cafeteria cooks Cindy Bugni and Gayla Copple choose their profession because of the people they serve. Both Bugni and Copple said the school atmosphere is an upbeat one they enjoy.
“I like working with the kids,” Copple said. “They are fun to be around.”
Bugni smiled and agreed as she placed supplies on a shelf.
“The summers off are nice, but its really great to see the kids every day,” she said.
Police officer Cody Milligan said he, too, is inspired to do his job by the children of his community.
“I like to help people and work to make my community a little better,” said Milligan. “I really like seeing the kids, and getting to interact with them on the job.”
Fireman Jim Long said the desire to serve their communities often motivates people to step up to do a job, even without pay.
“We have 25 volunteers on our fire department,” Long said. “They do so much great work for us and really we couldn’t protect our community without them.”
So if the main motivator isn’t a paycheck — and no one interviewed said it was — why are people willing to work so hard?
The answer was an easy one for Terry Gideon who was hauling sacks of materials at a local farm store.
“I like helping the employees get people what they need,” Gideon said. “Working with my hands and making people happy is a pretty good job to have.”
Electrician Jamie Seward said the stress is a lot less on a job site than behind a desk and has a tangible reward.
“I like seeing a project I’ve worked on come together and make a customer happy,” Seward said.
Over and over workers said the people they meet and work with are the main reason they love their jobs.
Waitress Amanda Lee said her work is fun and that the people she meets are interesting.
“I like seeing all the different people who come through here, it’s always changing,” she said.
For some the enjoyment of their work comes directly from the top, with good bosses making the job one they like.
Megan Burger, a bakery worker, said her boss keeps the environment relaxed and the team positive.
“I like the people I work with,” Burger said. “My boss is really nice and that makes a big difference.”
The appreciation of a good employer was strong with three lumberyard workers, Lee Wilson, Tim Oliver, and Caden McCoy. All said they loved their jobs because their boss Suzy was caring and easy to work for.
“You’re more than a worker here, you really matter as a person,” Oliver said.
Lee, who retired from the lumberyard, but missed it so much he returned to help out, said he likes working with his hands but he likes his boss more.
“She really cares about what you need and how are you are,” Lee said as he helped the younger men move materials. “It really is the best place to work because of her.”
For many being outside and at a job that is always changing is the biggest motivator.
Garden store owner John Harrison shifted mums in the sunlight and said his job lets him help create something.
“It’s rewarding to watch something grow and come to life,” Harrison said. “I’m not a desk person, there's nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not me.”
His landscape manager Melissa Sullivan said the sunshine is what calls to her as well.
“I love working outside and the flexibility that gives me,” Sullivan said. “No day is the same when your working with your hands.”