Ah, work. That endless challenge to approach with humor, freedom, and focus that which is necessary but beyond gratifying my Protestant work ethic doesn't have much reward. Some people do Babbitt, others Bartleby; I want something else, a solution beyond extremes.
(I've been reading that story paragraph by paragraph in my spare time and I'm not really understanding why Herman Melville is held in such high regard as a writer.)
It's still better than working at Burger King, which I got to do for five weeks or so as my first job. My father wouldn't let me quit, saying I needed a job; I learned some necessary lessons, although it sucked enough that I won't thank him for it just yet. (Love you, Dad.) "Stay In School" comes to mind; but also to get some sense of just how bad it can get trying to make it in the world, and recognizing that there are plenty of situations worse than Burger King. I worked with a guy who had a wife and a young child; he worked more than 40 hours a week and had been working there for a few years, dependable and hard-working. You started at minimum wage, then about $4.25 an hour (1993, maybe?), which, assuming you got 40 hours--which you probably didn't because that incurs some obligations on the employer, makes you eligible for overtime, and overall it's cheaper to have a bunch of part-time employees--comes to $8840 a year. You got a 25-cent raise every six months, which the manager, a dauntless, Amazonian black woman, seemed to think was pretty generous, but comes to an extra $520 a year. Assuming this guy had been there 3 years, he was making $10,400 a year before taxes.
If my children don't find shit jobs of their own, I'll have to find them some, at least for a little while. Everyone should experience that firsthand, and then everyone should have an opportunity to do something better.
Disney Channel has a series called Outward Bound, and it shows groups of kids aged 10-16 or so going on Outward Bound courses. I went on mine when I was 15, so it's usually fun to watch, but this one especially brought me back because it was the beginning, when you meet your group and pack up your stuff to go. I see the same personality types, which maybe they assemble on purpose: the one with camping experience, the mellow ones who have little or no outdoor experience but are game for almost anything, and the kids who talk on the phone 4 hours a day and can't imagine being separated from their friends and telephone and television. (And cell phones and portable internet devices, now, although when I was that age--God, I love saying this. GET OFF MY LAWN.--when I was that age cell phones with a range of more than a mile weighed about 4 pounds and were installed in a car.) It reminds me of a guy who graduated high school a couple years ahead of me, Rohit: he came back two years later and remarked at how everyone in his class had a lookalike on campus. He referred to his as Rohit 2.0.
This all reminds me that back when I took the course, I took note of the occupation of "Outward Bound instructor" and decided to hang on to the idea as something I might like to do someday, or something like it. Who knows. I ordered a NOLS catalog, just in case. I could go whole-hog and turn into my brothers (both former journeyman outdoorsy types, now working on an organic farm and for EMS, respectively). I like the outdoors a lot more once I'm properly equipped and out in it. Although washing dishes is a real pain unless you're sailing. I do like sailing.
Time to leave the house this weekend in search of adventure.