Pausing During a Sunny Lunch
It’s been a rough week. On top of the bite of local politics and the demand on one’s time that being a political insurgent tends to make in the midst of important events, the workdays have been less and less pleasant for the past couple of weeks.
My employer is attempting to make up for shortcomings and errors elsewhere in the company by pushing me to do at least twice as much work as is possible. It’s conceivable, of course, that I’ve just been around slow carpenters, during my years in the trade, and therefore do not realize how very slow I am. Still, accomplishing anything in the range of acceptable quality is a time-consuming, tedious task in century-old houses.
And so, between swear words, I get the request to put in extra hours for free — this not long after hours that I legitimately claimed on my time sheet were conspicuously absent on my paycheck. It’s difficult for a person of strong work ethic and accommodating personality to know what to do.
But… and here’s where I look up through my windshield at the way the sunlight filters through the leaves around me, all the same color, yet appearing to be a patchwork of different greens… in such tribulations, there is much to learn. There are also experiential contradictions and intellectual curiosities to unravel.
I find carpentry to be a very conservative trade — in the populist, traditionalist sense of conservatism. The carpenter builds something out of nothing. In renovations, he uncovers and respects what was placed before him. It’s physical work, often rough, and it is quite clear how competent you are. The trim wood stays, or it does not. The door fits in its opening and swings easily, or it does not. Consequently, advancement has much to do with merit.
Still, if I may be retrogressive, for a moment, it’s a very male trade. Shouting and cursing and masculine forms of resolving disputes and testing mettle abound. Given the difficulty of the work, when that masculine quality is driven to abusive degree, nakedly for the financial benefit of the abuser, it’s easy to draw from experience in the field for empathy for the liberal view of society. The boss has work and influence, therefore the worker needs something more than talent as influence, if he wishes to live a stable economic life free of the mood swings of the Boss Man.
I intend to spend some time reconciling the two perspectives, but for now, my half-hour lunch is up, and although I’m not intending to work for free, today, I should put in all of the hours to which I’ve agreed as an employee.