Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ira meditates on life in the workforce.

I get up early every morning before work so I have a couple hours to cook a huge breakfast and see unindentured daylight. I'm living with my friend Andy, who I met as a college freshman and have known longer than anyone in Chicago. We both eat a lot, ride bikes everywhere, and love to drink beer. In short, typical Wisconsin emigrants to Chicago. I think that on an average we go through four or five cartons of eggs, a bag of potatoes, a few sixpacks, and over two hundred miles in the saddle per week.

Wednesday morning, Andy and I were listening to NPR and watching school kids flock down the sidewalk, a school of pint-sized antagonistic tugboats with humorously foul mouths. As I polished off a giant omelet smothered in hot sauce, an essay came on the air about a woman who worked as a secretary, a job viewed by many as demeaning and unglamorous. One line stood out profoundly and I wish I'd captured it verbatim. In essence, she said, "People who climb mountains or go on strenuous adventures through Africa always get recognition of their efforts, but something like working as a secretary for years is just as difficult and never gets recognition."

I thought about that all week at work. Reflecting on my own adventure of the last five months with all it's physical and mental fatigue, I can't remember any day as awfully boring as my recent hours spent on data entry and telephone reception. These things really help you assess your goals in life. There has to be a pay-off! Someone we met on the bike ride gave this advice: "Spend your young, able bodied years doing difficult, adventurous things so when you're past your prime you'll feel good about kicking back and relaxing." One of the guys I just started working with has a goal to travel the country and drink a micro brewed beer from every state in the union. He only has seven left! He also plays in a rock band and has golfed his way across Wisconsin, both North-South and East-West.

"I want future generations to remember that I accomplished singular goals", he told me. "I don't want my life to be summed up by my job."

Anyway, this is turning into more of an essay than I had planned. The important information is this: I am going to work hard and save some money, because if I accomplish that goal I'll get to see the other half of the country by bicycle, and every hour spent behind the computer or telephone will be payed back in spades.


Anonymous said...

I heard that NPR "This I believe" essay too... thought about it for a couple of days. I thought about how a job should just be this thing that is natural
& non-stress giving, then all the other stuff you do in the world is what counts to you and should be the hotsause-omelettes. (from Belinda)

Anonymous said...

"singular goals" are the best part of life, the only type of goal that gives me joy. Each small thing accomplished gives me insperation for the next goal.