Tag Archives: john henry

A Letter of Apology to Labourers

18 September, anno domini 2010

Dear Sir or Madam,

Two weeks ago today I made a promise to you that I could not, as it turned out, keep. In an effort to remove from my back the burden of shame I have borne these many years for failing to live up to my family’s duel legacy of hard work and criminal activity, I intended to write a week-long tribute to outstanding men and women labourers. I could not live up to that promise. The only explanation I can offer you for my actions is that I was engaged in what I hope you will accept as a more fitting tribute to your labours: I was working.  I would like to extend a special apology to the intended subjects of my tribute, Messrs Henry and Heracles and Mmes Riveter and Virgin.

Were it not for you and your hammer, John Henry, the world may not have become aware of the intrinsic evil of machines. We would have been doomed to an apocalypse at the hands of our own creations. Because of you we — and by ‘we’ I mean ‘Hollywood movies’ — are ever vigilant against the machinations of technology, and the world is safe. For now.

Heracles, of your many labours, the cleaning of the Augean Stables stands out as particularly verendic. There are heroes enough in this world to face lions, boars and hydras; but rare is the man who would clean up a 30-year-old pile of whatsit. You stepped in a pile that even Mike Rowe would fear to tread in, and you came out victorious. Stinky, but victorious.

Rosie the Riveter. In Europe’s darkest hour, with the last of the free countries on the brink of collapse, you roused America to action. “We can do it!” you told us, and you were right. Japan may have awakened a sleeping giant when they bombed Pearl Harbor, but it was you who filled him with terrible resolve. The free people of the world owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

Mary, the only labour for which you will ever be famous might have been over in a matter of hours, but from it you brought forth the Saviour of the human race. The ramifications of this act are so mind-blowing, the whole world is still trying to figure out what to do with it. On behalf of the faithful, I thank you for agreeing to an insane job offer from an angel you’d only just met. We will be marveling in the mystery of the Son you bore  — yet who created you — for eternity to come.

You are all worthy of  recognition for your awesome labours. If the opportunity presents itself, I plan to follow through on my promise and dedicate posts to you in the future. I sincerely hope I have not offended any of you.

Tenderly I remain your verendicompendist,

S. Hamley Bildebrandt

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Filed under History, Lore and Legend, Technology, The Future, Unsung Heroes