The Laborers of Cape May

Every January, for the past several years, I’ve been afforded the privilege by Jack Wright of Exit Zero Magazine of reading the Robert Burns poem: A Man’s A Man For A’ That. Written many years ago about the equality of man as it relates to the workforce and society.

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

It has become a favorite poem of mine as I think about the employees that not only work for me, but through-out Cape May. I guess you could call this a Labor Day tribute to the infrastructure that supports Cape May all season and for that matter all year.

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The unseen side of Cape May: the seven-days-a-week delivery men who bring goods to restaurants and hotels that wouldn’t have the storage space to handle the inventory they need for resort volume business.



We often celebrate the sighting of celebrity visitors to Cape May, but not so much the laundress that walks to work after riding the bus and sits on the step so she can be on time for work.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Some positions in Cape May do seem sexier than others, but I wouldn’t place any less importance on a merchant who sells the much maligned t-shirt with the men and women who protect and serve us.  Cape May is made up of a diverse workforce of both local and international employees. Some of the international employees leave their home country and families for the entire season.

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Service employees range from those that police the streets to those that cruise the streets, delivering goods anywhere it is asked of them.  No matter how hot the streets get, you can have your cold lunch delivered cold by the intrepid delivery team of bikes.

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I considered doing an inventory of the different job types in Cape May. Suffice to say they would be too many to list and clearly I would not be able to name them all. But as Robert Burns concludes his poem it is clear that all the jobs in Cape May are as important as each person working them in my humble opinion.

Then let us pray that come it may, 
(As come it will for a’ that,) 
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth, 
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that. 
For a’ that, an’ a’ that, 
It’s coming yet for a’ that, 
That Man to Man, the world o’er, 
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

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From delivery man to the trash man who taketh away, Cape May is filled with the most dedicated employees you will find anywhere.

Here’s to ya.


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  1. 921Beachgirl
    September 1, 2014 / 3:07 pm

    Hey John,you just can’t beat my summer job in oddness.I’m the carriage stop assistant for the CM Carriage company.My top assignment is to catch pee in a bucket when the horse “does his thing”.It’s a skill I’ve honed over the past three summers.Best part is hearing folks cheer as I get into position,moving with the animal,for a clean catch.Har Har who knew retirement could be so much downright fun.

    • JohnCooke
      September 1, 2014 / 7:21 pm

      I’ve seen that 5 gallon bucket in action. The skill must come in reading the horse when it’s about time. I hadn’t considered that for the blog. Thanks for commenting.