Pop Thoughts This Labor Day Weekend.

At the beginning of August I went to the nail salon for a manicure and my technician, reaching for any scrap of small talk he could muster, asked me what I might be doing for the Labor Day weekend. I thought for a moment. I can never remember when Labor Day comes around and often mix it up with Memorial Day. When I told the tech I hadn’t yet made any plans, he gently scolded me about it being too late for a road trip to Vegas. I’m not too heartbroken about missing Vegas though, since the average temp in August is about 500 degrees.

But the conversation did get me thinking about Labor Day and it’s significance to my family. My father, the late Theodore Russell, drove a trash truck for the City of Los Angeles for I don’t know how many years, but enough to retire with a nice pension and lifetime health insurance for him and my mother (more on this later).

See, my father, who lived to be 86, only had an eighth grade education. As a black man coming of age in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, high school was a luxury his family could not afford. His father was a share cropper and needed another hand to work the fields, and because sharecropping was a scam, he also needed my father to seek outside work. I remember my dad telling me how he would hop a train and hide in the cargo cars to get to his dollar-a-day job.

When my father got the trucking job in Los Angeles, he joined union SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 721. The lobbying of this group ensured that even with a junior high school education, my father was able to provide for his family. Two years after he passed away, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The benefits that the union secured for my father ensured that my mother got the treatment she needed to beat the cancer–which she did, thank God.

But what most made my father proud was watching both his children graduate from college with honors. I remember how his chest puffed with pride, knowing that all the hard, back-breaking manual labor he had done over the decades made a way for a better future for his kids.

Say what you want about unions, but for me, I can’t help but give credit to the organization that secured a fair wage and benefits in exchange for the hard work and long hours my father put in all those years so his family could live a better life.

Thanks Dad, and happy Labor Day.

Know someone who works hard for the money? Go to to send a thank you card to someone whose work you appreciate.

Follow Christelyn on Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. And if you want to be a little more about this online dating thing, InterracialDatingCentral is the official dating site for this blog.