John Ratzenberger Reminds Us Why We Need To Be Plumbers Again
News Funnyman John Ratzenberger cheers us on when people decide to pick up a trade instead of a tablet.
It’s extremely evident that you have a huge passion for both America and the history behind how this country was built. Where did this enthusiasm originate from?
I was fortunate to have grown up in a factory town on a street that dead-ended into a ship yard. It seemed that everyone knew how to fix, build, bend, shape or fabricate whatever was necessary to deal with the head scratcher du jour. Both my grandfathers were carpenters which was where I was headed before being captured by the comedy bug. In fact I still have — and use — my grandfather’s wooden block planes today. This early introduction to the wonders of tools and the different types and properties of woods gave me an early appreciation of the importance of America’s infrastructure and how it was built. There are rock walls on my street that were built 400 years ago without a drop of cement and even as a kid I'd marvel at the skills of those long-ago masons.
Why is it vital for the future of infrastructure in our country that we change the public perceptions of manufacturing?
The negative perception of the trades and manufacturing comes largely from the films and TV shows we've grown up watching. Remember Gomer Pyle? He was a master mechanic that understood the intricacies of the internal combustion engine yet he was portrayed as an idiot. The trades have been the plumber’s butt of jokes in writers rooms all over Hollywood for decades. Hopefully, the studios will get a few scribes that know the difference between a soffit and a ball-peen hammer and start honoring the welders and others that maintain the bridges they drive over every day. Fingers crossed.
.In your own opinion, what is the No. 1 sector of infrastructure we should be dedicating more resources to?
The No 1. infrastructure sector to focus on should be, in my opinion, transportation. Not just the trains, planes, trucks and ships themselves but the systems and seas they travel on delivering all the essentials we use every day. Most freight and passenger trains are powered by diesel engines as well so commuter trains will be on the endangered list for want of someone handy with socket wrenches in the not too far off future. It's been close to 20 years since I started to draw attention to what I considered an important issue for us all. Now that the trumpets are starting to sound, I can sleep more soundly. Ironic huh?