Gainful Employment

No, when I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right before the mast, plumb down into the forecastle, aloft there to the royal mast-head. True, they rather order me about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this sort of thing is unpleasant enough. It touches one’s sense of honour, particularly if you come of an old established family in the land, the Van Rensselaers, or Randolphs, or Hardicanutes.

And more than all, if just previous to putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have been lording it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand in awe of you. The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from a schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires a strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear it. But even this wears off in time.

What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who ain’t a slave?

Tell me that.

Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about—however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way—either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other’s shoulder-blades, and be content.

-Melville: Moby Dick

So here I find me, working for pittance at UPS. “Seasonal Employee” they call it/me. Good. Seasons are good. I missed having ‘seasons’ when I lived in Southern California. Yes, seasons are good. Why, you may ask, do I take such a job, slinging parcels, dealing with antiquated computer systems, dealing with… well, dealing.

I do it for many reasons. I shall list them below:

  1. I need to get out of the house
  2. I need to ‘connect’ with real people again (No offense to all y’all out there in Radio Land), but yes: Real Folks
  3. My job search to get me back to “The Sandbox”, “The War”, aka Mid East, has not brought me instant gratification.
  4. I enjoy physical labor.
  5. Beer money is needed.
  6. I have never found anything wrong with honest, hard work.
  7. Need I go on?
  8. Didn’t think so

My philosophy on these matters has always been as was Melville’s. I take the job. Do my best. Never mind that I am always the ‘smartest-person-in-the-room’… I am good at acting, and even faux sycophanting (Is that a word? Of course it is)

And I must say, there is something rather endearing and fulfilling about having someone want you for gainful employment. I mean, it is good to be valuable to someone, or to some entity, n’est-ce-pas? Even if it is just seasonally…

More on this later