Service of Difficult Jobs

December 19th, 2016

Categories: Jobs, Work

Hard jobs old people turned

Two years ago about this time of year I wrote “Service of Challenging jobs.” Walking around town I see plenty of people who perform uncomplicated jobs that don’t require a lot of training but boy: Are they hard to do!

I thought I was finished drafting the post when I saw this ancient couple inching along First Avenue after Saturday’s snowstorm [photo above]. They were under scaffolding on a clean sidewalk but it was early and most—crosswalks too–were still slushy, icy nightmares. For them simple everyday activities and chores are difficult.

What this photo doesn’t show is what happened next. A kid on his bicycle came up to the old man and holding his bike with one hand he steadied the elderly fellow’s arm with the other to help him over slush and across the street. Such unexpected kindness by someone so young brought tears to my eyes.

Hard jobs up high with poster turnedLook at the top of the building facing 45th Street just off Third Avenue [photo right]. You’ll see a crane with two men putting the finishing touches on a poster. Pedestrians pay no attention: Employers expect these men to be sure-of-hand so as not to drop any tools on the folks below.

Hard jobs heavy lifting of grocery carts turnedThose palettes get plenty heavy when full of cartons holding cans, bottles and boxes of detergent. The man in the forefront isn’t wearing a jacket and the temperature was in the 30s the day I shot this in front of a D’Agostino grocery store.

Hard jobs up high at Javits turnedThe brightest of the lights–third from the left–is on the cart of some men working high up in the Javits Center late at night in a largely empty building. I wasn’t able to tell precisely what they were up to but it looked like they were replacing light bulbs. Acrophobia is not in their DNA.

Look at the tree branch reaching out over Third Avenue and you’ll see a pair of arms tying lights on it to dress the avenue for the holidays [photo below]. What you don’t see is the wall-to-wall traffic behind the van. If the branch decorator falls on to the avenue from the cherry picker he’s in trouble.

Have you noticed any people with precarious jobs in and around where you live and work?

 hard jobs placing lights on trees turned

Tags: ,

7 Responses to “Service of Difficult Jobs”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    Yes I have noticed work crews in my neighborhood that need to work up high on the poles that hold electric, cable, telephone, etc., and the man in the bucket who has what I think is the toughest job, often turns out to be nicer and more cooperative than his crew that requires less talent to do their job, for instance…

    I asked the head crewmen if he could crop some trees that were blocking a stop sign near my home. He immediately agreed.

    The day before I had asked one of the ground people, and he said it wasn’t their job and the city had to do it. So I admire people with hard jobs, they are really sweet guys underneath.

    Oh and I think that photographing them like you did, must be difficult because people don’t like to be photographed by strangers.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    “It’s not my job”–four words that drive me NUTS. Where there’s a will….It took almost 2 weeks to get phone service back upstate. Some Verizon repair people are five star; others not trained and unwilling.

    I so wanted to take a photo of the young man–maybe 15–who helped the old fellow but felt it would be a rude intrusion. The others didn’t see me except for the D’Agostino worker and he said he was fine with it. I asked.

  3. ASK Said:

    Another hard job although strictly voluntary (so why would anyone do it?): Chair of your co-op’s decorating committee. Never again…

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hysterical ASK!

    I KNOW what you mean. I have many stories to share from the day I was on a co-op board and took that job. I will leave one hint: A kerfuffle began over a shade of beige.

  5. hb Said:

    My candidate for the toughest job going right now in New York is working as one of Donald Trump’s handlers. Should you misstep you might get us all killed! And you’ve got that marginally informed, egocentric, erratic, inconsistent blowhard to keep in line.

    The closest job description that I can think of to that one is the one of their predecessors 2000 years ago had when the Roman Emperor, Gaius Caligula, appointed his favorite horse, Incitatus, to be one of Rome’s two Consuls. Those handlers had to make sure that the stallion, who was fed a diet of fine oats mixed with gold flakes did not die from food poisoning. No easy job either.

  6. Lucrezia Said:


  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    A creative answer! Heavy lifting for sure.

Leave a Reply

Clicky Web Analytics