It’s Not a GOOD Job…

…It’s a great job and I love it. When I taught school I loved my job, too, though it nearly killed me, putting out all that joy and energy every day. (How do longtime teachers DO it? I would get home and topple like a felled oak onto the bed.)

(Blurry but there I am, smiling my face off in Room 334.) 

Here’s a story: Yesterday, I was in a coffee shop where I sometimes write, when the young guy waiting on me said, “Wow, you really work hard. You’re here all the time.”

Then a little later he came over again. “Can I ask what you do for a living? Are you, like, a private investigator?”

“A private investigator?! No, I’m just a writer.”

“Oh,” he said, a look of extreme disinterest crossing his face. “A job more boring than mine,” was what he seemed to be thinking.

But as I say it’s not a boring job. It’s a great job.

Last Thursday, I sat for an hour in my car, nosed cozily up to a tiny city park. Everything was the color of a Crayola box, the sky just that shade of hurt-your-eyes blue and the grass that color of green you find in Easter baskets and everyone who passed looked fully alive.

Here came a woman with a cloud of hair the color of corn. Here stood a young man, practicing the controlled hypnotic movements of Chung Moo Doe. In the usual martial arts garb, he turned and pivoted, swooped a sword in the air, and moved his hands in graceful gestures. As people passed him, literally every single one slowed down to watch.

Now two dogs trotted by smiling. Now a squirrel the rare color of coffee ice cream executed arcing leaps across the grass, as unaware of its beauty as are all young creatures everywhere.

A baby passed, speaking of young, pushed in an old-fashioned pram with the top down, the whole gliding like a 1960s convertible.

Earlier that day, I had browsed in a wallpaper store and listened as two other customers fell to talking.

“The trouble here is, you can’t pick your wallpaper quickly ’cause then you have to live with it.”

“Like with marriage,” replied the other.

“Only thing I did right in my life,” said the first. “Wonderful guy! Married for 37 years and he dies of a heart attack.”

The clerk then picked up the phone to call his father, who, he told us, had just had bypass surgery.

“Have you gone for your walk yet, Dad? Oh. Well, it’s great that you’re looking at treadmills but you’ve got to do more than look at them.”

Now, back at the tiny park, two young woman sailed by on skates, chins high and backs arched. Now a van of nuns passed, veils flying.

Later, at the coffee shop of a nearby college the day’s warmth got the best of me and I put my head down on my folded arms, the way your teachers had you do in grade school.

Suddenly two campus police were beside me. “Ma’am. Are you all right, Ma’am?” one asked.

“Oh. I fell asleep,” I said, sitting up straight.

“You sure did,” said the second.“We figured it was all this homework,” he smiled, gesturing at the books and papers piled around me.

So I guess this job wears me out a little too, as you can see.

But it’s not the energy I put out that does it now. It’s the energy I witness in the people I see, all that lively human bustle. Writing for the paper is a great job, all right. And for sure it’s never ever boring.

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9 thoughts on “It’s Not a GOOD Job…

    1. yeah that’s always the question isn’t it? Calm but psyched is where you want to be when you write do you find that Brian? – calm by psyched unless you’re just sad that day and then you write to relieve your burdened heart. anyone who looks back over my last week of posts would find that it isn’t hard to spot the day I felt THAT way!

      1. Not sure how I’m feeling when I write. It’s kind of another animal in and of itself. Easiest is when the idea has been percolating for a while. Most fun is when I have no idea and just write a sentence and then another until I end up with something. Sometimes those are the best days…sometimes not. I guess the best part is just checking out for a while and living in the story. Even when I’m writing one of my silly true or semi- true stories, it’s as if I’ve become another character, instead of myself. Never wrote in a coffee shop though, so don’t know how that translates to getting lost. Especially if some other Hemingway is waiting for a table. I’m having enough trouble writing on the deck. Never know where that durn (New England curse word) cursor is half the time and keep writing gibberish in the wrong sentence. I’m just going with it and calling it “free form”. Hey, it worked for Kerouac….

  1. Now I think of you as Ernest Hemingway hanging out in the Cafe de la Paix, writing about the world as it passes by.

  2. Wow he did do that, didn’t he, writing of the Michigan woods while letting the saucers pile up that came with each coffee. I dont’ think drank alcohol when he worked the way the others did. (Ever read The Thirsty Muse? Scottie F, Wiliiam F, Tennessee W: a bibulous bunch!)

  3. Bet you were the very best teacher at your school, Terry. As a retiree with 35 years of service, you can tell those kinds of things about people. Your right about the joy and energy part. The students give it to you and all you have to do is pass it on back.

    1. So you were a teacher too!
      Well Art I don’t know how many thought that but I have to say I have had such a nice time reconnecting with my old students on Facebook. Have you joined yet? It’s so nice..
      Thanks for this pearl of wisdom. YOU ARE SO RIGHT!.

  4. I have not read The Thirsty Muse. Would they have done as well had they not been so thirsty? There’s no way to tell.

    Re Ernest: Canadian writer, Morley Callaghan, in That Summer in Paris, tells it as it was. Morley is a much-neglected writer, who was a member of the Lost Generation scribes centered around Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and of course, Zelda.

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