Me and Bacchus would have been homeboys.
Though I’m not one to indulge too often in the earthly libation known to our Native American friends as fire water–and have exactly one minus one times in man sex–I thoroughly appreciates those evening in which I pour a few glasses ( or tie one on as my old white duns call it). While drinking like a freshman that gets found passed out in their entryway is less than agreeable, a few drink over a fish dinner in which you discuss: how much you want to hit Sarah Palin with a hammer, being a a Yale graduate, car insurance, and how much you want you want to hit Sarah Palin with a hammer–probably in the knee but maybe the mouth depending on the situation–certainly qualify with “gangbusters” status in my book.
As most of you probably aren’t aware, my girl The Michelle is heading to the Nati that she might be able to one day take over the good people who make both Crest and Magic Erasers. For me, there is a good deal of emotion involved, namely because it was around six years ago this week that a young freshman scrap in maroon wifebeater attempted to woo her outside her apartment after having grossly miscalculated the distance from Zeta Psi to her residence. There is also a bit of emotion attached to the fact that she has been there through think and thin; through chocolate and vanilla and everything in between. In some less-than-sober way, hers is the only opinion I care for when it comes to my maturation from young scrap to older scrap because, in the best and worst ways, she has seen the arc in its entirety.
I won’t lie: This back-to-school time makes me feel somewhat nostalgic. Unlike your first fall out of school when you’re still trying to figure out why real life doesn’t involve a meal plan and no work on Friday–which I’ve still managed to finagle because I’m ill like that–your second fall is one in which you’re a bit more familiar with how this new phase of life is supposed to work. In this sophomore season, you have more of an opportunity to not only look wistfully upon those who still have the opportunity to live in an alternate reality, but also fondly ponder those times in which your “work” began at the crack of 11.
Over dinner, I found myself doing that. Whereas your last year of college is memorable, wistful reflection has more to do with missing circumstances that are far removed from the present. When your trip down memory lane goes longer, when you think about the early days of black roommates paired together, of five dollar couches and breaking the belt loop on that junior’s pants at your first college party EVER, you start to clear your throat and pour a glass of prune juice. Unlike the little effort it takes to remember when you were a sophisticated senior who had mastered the art of holding the inhalation of a marijuana cigarette while downing a shot of whiskey, navigating the waters of being a “not lame but rather a semi-cool version of lame because you didn’t have quite the right seasoning to keep you from being anything other than not lame but rather a semi-cool version of lame” seventeen year old is both rough and enticing.
As I recounted the story of meeting The Michelle to my parents, I couldn’t help but be struck by how vivid the memory seemed. I’ve forgotten many frames of the movie of my life, but this one–and many from that era–are my Zapruder. In some I’m waving at the crowd; in others, Jackie’s crawling on the back of the limo to grab my skull cap. For some odd reason all these frames appear to be sunny. These images capture a sunshine I secretly miss, even when Jackie’s going to the back of the limo. It’s funny; despite the fact that I know some of these days were a bright, shining lie, I remain dazzled and want one more chance to wave from that motorcade.
Sometimes I want just one more glass of water after a night at Zeta Psi. Peace to The Michelle.
Penultimate Thought: If “liberal elite” means I don’t like the dumb, so be it.
Final Thought: Michigan with an Adidas contract is crime against the universe.
It’s often assumed that working a job that does not jive with your interest (or wallet) serves the purpose of “telling you what you don’t want to do” or “makes you appreciate jobs you like that much more.” The above platitudes, of course, tells you absolutely nothing. With the exception of jobs that you honestly thought you would like but turned out to be terrible, you were probably already aware that you didn’t really want to do the job; indeed, as your bank account dwindled and some loan officer or another kept blowing your phone up, your decision came down to which form of prostitution–including prostitution itself–you would subject yourself to for financial gain. Of course, in those instances, there are some who have epiphanies; in a pressure situation, life slowed down just enough to make some employment desire or interest abundantly clear to them. For most of us doing jobs we don’t particularly care for, that is not the case.
Because life has a funny sense of humor, jobs we don’t care for often times do not point us in the direction of jobs we would care for. In fact, jobs we don’t care for only make us yearn for not doing any job at all. Jobs we don’t care for seem to only serve the purpose of making us tolerate eight hours at work that we might gain the weekend as a reward. I’ve found in the five or so years in which I’ve had myriad jobs that ranged from “hm, this isn’t terribly engaging” to “God, I hope I have a slip and fall accident at work” we spend a good deal of time being catty and bitchy about the jobs we don’t care for, intermittently accenting said cat bitchery with bittersweet exultations about what we plan to drink this weekend and doing little else. Having been both torch bearer and pitchfork wielder in this familiar mob, I can tell you it has only helped me to determine I didn’t particularly care for whatever job I was doing. This is somewhat redundant since I not only knew I didn’t particularly care for the job before applying, but was very likely brandishing my pitchfork while I grumbled my way to the stockroom to get more hats/sweaters/sneakers/Endorush.
(Sidebar 1: Lest I sound like a hypocrite to the Crookeds and The Straights project, understand that no matter if you love or hate your job, there is someone or something about the job that chaps your ass. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just keep reading and don’t trouble yourself with the above clarification. But if you really want to know, go check out http://www.crookedsandstraights.blogspot.com)
The other day on my day off, a day in which I was contemplating turning in my nametag for the umpteenth time, I decided to chat up The Michelle. Having known her for some time, I should have known it was less than prudent to begin haranguing against my job, but I of course did. Here’s a dramatization of conversation:
Me: This job is beneath me!
TM: Yes; it is.
Me: I’mgonna just quit! I went to too much school to abide this garbage. I’m taking too many lateral steps.
TM: So make a decision, take a forward one and call me back when your testicles drop.
So I put out my torch, dropped my pitchfork, and did just that.
Perhaps because we fear self-reflection and evaluation, people don’t realize that the answers to their fulfillment, at least with regard to employment, is a question that must be asked of the self. It’s a fairly tall order to ask a job you never wanted to sate your passion. In my case, I have much less of an excuse because–for the time being–I have a very good idea of how I want to spend my hours. In fact, I’ve probably always known it, but shied away from it as I grew older and learned what fear and “knowing better” was. The depth of self-evaluation and reflection it takes to accept the facts can be staggering. The journey to discovering your passion often reveals exactly who you are, good and bad, to the one person it is impossible to lie to. If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, the first thing you have to do is ask the question.
Unless you live an abundantly charmed life, there will be a time when you have to do a job you don’t want to do. What purpose does such a thing serve? The easy answer is that it helps you bridge the gap to your passion. If you’re a photographer, that job at Foot Locker helps buy film. I’ve found recently that the work has gotten light to me because I have no illusions as to why I am there. Perhaps this is coming from a place of detached arrogance or perhaps I just believe I can close the gap, but I sweat this situation much less because it is temporary.
But there’s more than that. Unfortunately, the following statement applies more soundly to people that have an idea of what they want to do, but if you’re willing to put the leg work in with regard to discovering your passion or interests, this will still be holding water when you get back. Jobs you don’t care for tell you why you don’t care for them and why you do care for your other interests. While wearing a nametag and punching a clock every day is abhorrent to my sensibilities, they are merely annoyances in the face of what I feel the essence of my actual job is. No matter how good it feels to close a membership deal and get a few more coins in my pocket–and believe me, I do get a kick out of the chess match and the resultant pennies–I can never feel fully invested in the work.
As I sat at my desk earlier this week, using gamesmanship and my gabbing gift to sign a young woman on a fixed income to a membership that both suited her income and my commission check–while I never cross ethical lines, I am a salesman; hence, I can always give a person a better deal than they are getting, but to do so would hurt my income–I had a simple yet profound insight. Though, on a technical level, my professional interests lie in quarterbacking the make-believe, I never feel like I am lying when I do it. Peace to Willy Loman.
Penultimate Thought: Though Jamaican, I’m glad the fastest man in the world is 6’5.
Final Thought: I have no idea where they throw dumpsters out.