Monday, May 9, 2011

The Life of Job

We expect compensation for inconvenience. That's what a job is all about. If it wasn't inconvenient then it wouldn't be called work. It would be called play. And it wouldn't be called a job. It would be a hobby. If you're on this planet long enough you'll have a job and expect payment for suffering. Whether it's mowing the lawn to get an allowance or running a software company, taking up a job is what unites almost all people.  In fact the concept of weighing time and energy vs. payment shapes and defines a life.

These thoughts ran through my head as I drove down I-95 toward South Beach for a lunch meeting. I have no idea what triggered a retrospective look at mankind and labor but as a freelance artists I think a lot about jobs. Before one is done there is something else that is set and ready to go. The previous night I finished a new play. 130 pages, 2 acts, an entire world completed. And now there were three webisodes, a musical, a rewrite of another play, articles due, and possibly more. Jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

I'm guessing the qualification of a good job would be proportionally favorable compensation in relation to inconvenience. And a dream job is substantially greater payment against the scale of suffering. I've had great jobs, good jobs, so-so jobs, and horrible jobs. If I actually added up all the random assignments, choirs for allowance, bartering trades, freelance projects, and salaried positions in my life so far it would probably be in the thousands.

I parked my car in the heavily towed lots on South Beach and let the engine idle for a moment as I continued thinking. I shuffled through some notecards for ACI homework and looked around. The steamy afternoon kept everyone indoors. A black BMW pulled up next to me and a lanky pale young man in black shorts and shirt sat in the tinted cocoon. I tried to guess his story. A rich kid? A car detailer whose working on some exec's car in a side lot?

He glanced at me for a moment and then looked around with pensive and slightly dissatisfied grimace. Like he wished he was elsewhere. His lanky pale frame and slight scowl gave him the look of a New York/New Jersey transplant who may have hoped for something better on South Beach. But who knows maybe he's just having a bad day.

Across from me was an older silver-haired man with his car door open and staring off into space. Then something happened that made everyone stop their thoughts for a moment. A tall, pot-bellied man in a boxer shorts, flip flops and denim bathrobe came waddling out of one of the high-rise office building/shopping center/condominium, bomb shelter chic complexes that are virally multiplying on South Beach. He had a slightly stained white t-shirt and leaned back as he walked forward. This was 'the dude' for The Big Lebowski. In fact, I have never seen anyone look more like 'the dude' than this dude. The dude walked the entire length of the parking lot and over to a Black Dodge Ram pick-up truck with the word "RESPECT" etched in silver on the rear tinted cabin windows. The dude hopped into his Dodge and peeled off, making a loop around the lot and then disappearing. Where was he off to dressed like that? Is it conceivable that 'the dude' was going to work in a denim bathrobe and boxer shorts? Or maybe a drive-in fast food joint?
 
After 'the dude' left, the lanky man went to the BMW's trunk and dragged out yards of blue chords. This was getting odd. He lasso'ed the chords around the left shoulder like a cowboy and walked over to the older gentleman. Lanky man began laying out the chords in different lengths and patterns on the bubbling black asphalt as the older man looked on. Occasionally their lips moved and they nodded, but for the most part this activity was done in silence. Was the job fishing, towing? The mystery, silence, and slightly odd set-up gave the whole operation a sinister feel. Several minutes passed and I had to leave my car to go to the lunch meeting.

I was hoping when I got back they would still be in their elaborate rope arrangement negotiations. But alas, two hours later there was no BMW, the silver-haired man, or the yards of blue chords. Another black car was parked next to mine. I got back in the Honda and cranked the air. The promise of another meeting from the meeting I just had. And if all goes well there will be a job at the end of that meeting.

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