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For Those Who Labor

Iron Man.On a day when most of us are on vacation, it might be nice to reflect on — or, even better, to visit — places that remind us of people who aren’t.

America is dotted like an office bingo card with monuments to jobs that you probably don’t want, and wouldn’t be qualified to perform anyway. One of the more impressive is the Huge Iron Man in Chisholm, Minnesota. The worker holds a pickax and wears a miner’s helmet, yet his buttoned shirt appears starched and ready for an inspection by the boss. Big (and gold) as he is, the worker is dwarfed by the even larger pile of iron on which he stands. Depending on your point of view, this either signifies triumph or it means that the poor guy will be pulling a double shift tonight.

Ed.Labor can also be of love, but that doesn’t make it any less laborious. Ed Leedskalnin knew this as he hacked and hauled rock to build his Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida. Ed expected that his sweetheart would be won over by his hard work. She wasn’t, but generations of tourists have been, so perhaps in the end Ed felt that his sweat equity had been rewarded — although surviving photos of dour Ed don’t suggest it.

A third kind of labor is experienced only by half of us (freak pregnant man excepted), and it’s not normally the subject of fun travel destinations. Fertilization has interesting possibilities, however, such as the Pregnancy Minie Ball in Vicksburg, Mississippi. And the internal wonders that make labor happen are on view in the many Transparent Women across the nation. That’s human plumbing, and you can’t have plumbing without labor, and that just about exhausts this labored analogy. Has it? Oh, yes it has.

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