Straddlers are persons who grow up among the working class and later find themselves in the middle class in their future adult life. This book tries to relate the personal life of straddlers to the prevailing standards of living. The fact that the writer, Alfred Lubrano, uses a personal assessment of his life to discuss this phenomenon makes one identify him/herself with his story. Before diving right in, let us first differentiate between white-collar jobs and blue-collar jobs. White-collar persons are individuals who do managerial, administrative or professional work and are usually under a fixed pay in permanent employment. In contrast, a blue-collar worker is a manual laborer who is paid hourly or for work done.
The author says that straddlers are usually the family pioneers both in education and in the job market. For this reason, their families expect a lot from them. Their families expect them to earn good money and live a comfortable life. Families never understand straddlers who settle for middle class jobs paying peanuts. They do not understand why they settle for so little after so much reading. The author himself grew up in a working class neighborhood, although his father was a blue-collar worker. Lubrano says that he found his home peaceful and serene. The neighborhood was, however, always noisy with babies crying daily and families quarrelling. White-collar people are very serious and have a high level of prejudice towards straddlers and blue-collar workers.
In my life, I have come across people in the so-called working class. Their behavior has a direct correlation to the amount of salaries they are receiving. Most of them like socializing with their fellow workmates and rarely do they find time to be with the unemployed lot. However, blue-collar workers are the most social people. They are resilient and hardworking, trying to get that extra coin. Straddlers find themselves in between these two characters, and a majority of them hardly cope with their lives.
Blue-collar workers, as answered in the previous question, are manual laborers and are usually paid on an hourly base. However, some of them are under a monthly pay. There exists a conflict between white collar and blue collar workers. There is a sense of enmity between them. The enmity results from the style white collar workers treat blue collar workers; they look down upon them without respect. To white collar workers, blue collar workers are their subordinates supposed to fulfill their wishes.
According to Lubrano, blue collar workers have some common values that enable them to fight the humiliation they face from their white collar counterparts. These values straighten up the hostile relationships between the three working categories: white collar, blue collar, and straddlers. A careful look at each value and the role it plays in the dispute follows below.
White collar workers are genuine, open, and honest in everything they do or say. They have no hidden agendas, unlike white collar workers, who are highly secretive. This enables blue collar workers stay and relate together; in this way they survive the humiliations from white collar workers together. They also understand how hard it is to succeed in the cruel and hard world. They help each other cope with the difficulties of life, and do not feel jealousy towards any of them who succeed in life. Blue collar workers support each other in their daily activities.
Blue collar workers are also daring and are not afraid to take life head on. They do fear white collar workers, but they take them head on if they feel they are being oppressed. Blue collar workers have a strict work ethic; they respect their jobs very highly. To them, their jobs are their sole source of income, and sometimes they have to accept the oppression from white collar workers to survive. Blue collar workers also have closely knit and harmonious families. This closeness is what separates them from their rich white collar counterparts.
Blue collar values bring these workers together and make them live harmoniously. The values enable them to fight the arrogance of the white collar sector collectively and efficiently.