Scott Adams knows many “successful white-collar types who had unpleasant manual jobs when they were young.” He considers the significance of those jobs:
In my case, I worked on my uncle’s dairy farm in upstate New York. And let me tell you, nothing makes you want to avoid farming as much as actually doing it. When I studied for a test in school, I was keenly-aware that it meant something. … But I imagine how different I might have felt if I had never experienced unpleasant manual labor – and lots of it – and instead was tortured with several hours of homework every night. I think I might have longed for a simpler future with no books and not so much thinking. In other words, I think the homework would have redirected me away from seeking a career in law or engineering and toward something that didn’t require so much damned studying.
Update from a reader:
I did a fair amount of work not requiring a college education before I completed college (restaurant, janitorial, shipping room, kibbutz factory and fields), and I found most of it reasonably pleasant – certainly not an incentive to get out into the ‘white collar’ world. I think only having to live for an extended time on scanty wages does that – though of course, there are lots of really unpleasant jobs that I didn’t have to do. Just saying, lots of college-track kids can get plenty of not-particularly-unpleasant work that won’t in itself scare them off a life of wage labor.