It was the fixation of businessmen that the W.P.A. did nothing but lean on shovels. I had an uncle who was particularly irritated at shovel-leaning. When he pooh-poohed my contention that shovel leaning was necessary, I bet him five dollars, which I didn’t have, that he couldn’t shovel sand for fifteen timed minutes without stopping. He said a man should give a good day’s work and grabbed a shovel. At the end of three minutes his face was red, at six he was staggering and before eight minutes were up his wife stopped him to save him from apoplexy. And he never mentioned shovel-leaning again. I’ve always been amused at the contention that brain work is harder than manual labor. I never knew a man to leave a desk for a muck-stick if he could avoid it.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
“A Primer on the 30s” Esquire (1 Jun 1960)

Later reprinted.

Added on 27-Apr-21 | Last updated 27-Apr-21
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