Honoring an American Worker This Labor Day 2018

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Throughout the summer months, the man in this photo brings refreshment — and certainly a little bit of joy — to people in our Avondale neighborhood and beyond.

His name?

I don’t know; but when I hear the sound of bells breaking the silence of an afternoon, I frequently race out of the house to purchase a few lime, mango or strawberry frozen treats. Given his weathered face and hands, it’s apparent that this American worker logs a long day.

This American Worker more than likely will be on the job this Labor Day.

On a bike ride earlier this summer, I witnessed the man with his cart a good mile-plus north of our home. He is employed by the Paleteria Arco Iris, a shop located a few blocks north of us on Belmont Avenue. In researching this post, I learned that a paleteria is an “ice lolly vendor,” and a paleta is a Mexican ice pop.

We’ve purchased frozen bars from the store in the past, but I prefer to get mine from this man, who’s always very cordial, always very welcoming. His job is simple: Stroll the sidewalks and sell a little happiness for $1 or $1.50.  Yes, he performs this task with dogged persistence and pride.

Too often, we only recognize those titans of the American workforce — those women and men who make headlines or have jobs deemed important or vital to the economy or society. Often, those performing the menial or less-skilled jobs frequently fall under the proverbial radar.

So, on Labor Day 2018, I offer a salute to the Paleta Man, who assuredly will be on his rounds today, and to all American workers who are unheralded or forgotten.

Later, I will listen for the sound of the bells, signaling happiness in the form of a flavorful frozen treat. And, I will savor the ice pop, knowing that with the decline of summer days, the Paleta Man will be done for the season.

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Labor Day posts have been published on the PRDude blog over the years.  Here are a few:



This Labor Day: Advice for Those Who Remain “In Transition”

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Yesterday, I learned that Labor Day, which is today here in the United States, was born from controversy, hard times and labor unrest.   An historical piece in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune pointed out that the first Monday in September, a day devoted to the American worker, was made a national holiday in 1894 under order from President Grover Cleveland.  Earlier that year, things were not so rosy.

Many of us who fire up our grills and bid good-bye to the “official” end of summer may not know that the first Labor Day took place at a time when the nation was in a depression and federal troops were sent to a quash a strike in June of 1894 at the Pullman railroad car plant in Chicago.

Well, back then Pullman was the town industrialist George Pullman created  for his thriving business; it’s now part of Chicago.  He owned the town, the plant and the houses his railroad workers were forced to live in.  He cut workers’ pay but not the cost of rent, leading to a strike, violence and ultimately a blow to the unions.  Of, Pullman was forced to divest his industrial fifedom and sell off the town.

Of course, there’s labor strife today, mostly felt among the 9.1 percent of Americans who can’t find a job.

You loyal readers know The PRDude was inspired to join the ranks of bloggerdom (I just made that word up) when he was thrust into “transition.”  That nice three-syllable  word is really a euphemism for being unemployed.  Or underemployed.  Or to many Americans, in dire straits.

My outcome was positive.  I’m approaching my 11th month in a tremendous position where I manage public relations, marketing communications and lots of other stuff for a great real estate association here in Chicago.

My search took 13 months. On this Labor Day, I offer this advice for those who remain in the hunt.

  1. Think Not Outside the Box.  Thankfully, that silly cliche –“think outside the box” — has faded from our lexicon.  It basically means, “try something different.” I don’t think that’s good advice for job seekers.  Focus on your strengths. Concentrate in the industry and fields where you have experience.  Why “reinvent” yourself if your old self worked.
  2. Ask For Help. It’s Out There. Too many unemployed people fail to ask for assistance, referrals or advice. You’d be surprised.  Friends, former co-workers, the guy at the coffee shop more than likely are willing to help.  Ask.  But remember, there people have lives and other stuff to do.  Don’t expect to be top of mind to your network all the time; just stay within range.
  3. Have a Routine, But Make Time to Follow a Different Path. During my transition period, you know, when I was still seeking that next great job in public relations, I kept up my ritual of starting my day with a brisk stroll through the neighborhood.  I got exercise and an opportunity to think.  Some days, I would return and get right back to work.  Other days, I’d (figuratively) keep walking.  It helped because I did not feel each day was the same; not just another day of being “in transition.”  NOTE: Watching television all day but switching channels doesn’t count.

Of course, those seeking work should continue to network, remain positive, volunteer if possible and remain diligent.  Hopefully, on this 117th Labor Day, the three thoughts above will provide some additional insight and inspiration.

Do you have similar thoughts to share?  Are you “in transition?”  Hit the comment button and make your thoughts known.

Wishing all a safe and tranquil Labor Day.  Wishing all who’s labor is finding that next great position much success.  You can do it.  Just ask the PRDude.

Random Thoughts on a Friday: PR & More

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka the PRDude

Here are some thoughts and observations on public relations and other stuff of interest.

  1. PR Specialty: Street Gangs. Earlier this week, the print and broadcast media reported on a recent “secret” meeting between Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis and reputed street gang leaders.  The purpose: Weis said gang leaders must stop the rash of drug-related shootings and violence that has plagued parts of the city.  Otherwise, authorities would use federal racketeering laws to the fullest to prosecute the leaders and seize their homes, cars and valuables.The reputed gang leaders responded with a news conference yesterday that was covered by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass. According to Kass, the news conference “was somewhat disorganized, with conflicting messages, a lot of emotion, but no focus.”   What intrigued me about the “news conference” centered on the fact that the coalition of gangs on Chicago’s West and South sides employed the services of a local public relations firm to announce the event.  Really? There are PR firms that would take on business from clients who reportedly sell illegal drugs, terrorize neighborhoods, incite violence and commit other heinous acts?One underlying value and purpose of the public relations profession and those who practice it is this:  Public relations efforts should have some redeeming social value.  Helping to spread the word about a reputed gang leader news conference has no redeeming social value whatsoever.
  2. PRSA NomCom Revisited. Around a month ago, I had the honor and privilege of serving on the national Public Relations Society of America Nominating Committee, which met here in Chicago to select the slate of officers and delegates for the National Assembly.  An “emergency”  fill-in delegate representing the PRSA Midwest District, I sat shoulder-to-shoulder with PRSA leaders from across the nation.  At the table were past presidents, long-time national officers, section leaders and other PR professionals from virtually every discipline within the industry.  To keep the debate on track and according to established rules, PRSA employed a parliamentarian.By no means was I intimidated by this cadre of peers; but I was very impressed with their dedication to the nomination process.  Of course, I can’t discuss any particulars, but let’s put it this way:  The debate was quite spirited.   My take away was a much better understanding of the process of electing PRSA leadership and a greater respect for those volunteers who do, indeed promote the theme:  “Advance the Profession and the Professional.”Special thanks to my friends and colleagues at PRSA Chicago, for recognizing my participation on the Chapter website home page.
  3. 365 Day Later.  Today marks the one-year anniversary since I launched the PRDude blog.  Yes, it’s been 365 days since my position as Senior Director of Public Relations was eliminated.A note of heartfelt thanks to those who have read this blog and to those who have offered comments.  I remain totally committed to the profession and resilient in my search for that next great job in public relations.  Since last fall, I’ve gone on several face-to-face interviews, participated in phone screens and completed online questionnaires.  I’ve joined business social networks and posted my credentials on several online job boards.  I’ve targeted companies and made cold calls. I’ve attended dozens of networking events, participated in numerous webinars and continue to read up on latest the technology and best practices.  My volunteer participation with PRSA Chicago and the Universal Accreditation Board remains high.  And, I continue to complete writing and consulting assignments for clients in the real estate and other B2B industries.And, of course, I’ve maintained this blog.

    People have told me:  “You’re doing all the right things.”  Understood, yet my search continues — and it will continue.  I’ve learned that when life presents challenges, you must muster the necessary resources and succeed.

    On this Labor Day weekend, I wish all a safe and pleasant holiday.  Special words of support to the 15 million Americans who are searching for work: Your next job is out there.   I conclude with this bit of optimism:  As I write this — mid afternoon on  Friday, September 3 — the Dow is up more than 100 points, due to better-than-anticipated news on the employment front.