Saturday, June 25, 2011

365 Jobs, Day 176: Thomas (Hosed)

Monday, June 25, 1984

Thomas is a salesman for IBM.  He's an affable man, fortyish.  Apparently he earns very good money. 

At his house in Saratoga, I spend an entire day - nine hours - rehanging dozens of cabinet doors.  Somebody had painted the kitchen, then re-hung the doors in an adequate but not-quite-perfect manner.  "I got hosed," Thomas says.  "But then he's just a painter."

After nine hours of fussing and fitting, microscopic adjustments, more care than any cabinet door should ever receive, I get them darn near perfect.  The task is not unpleasant but feels insanely unproductive.

Thomas comes home from IBM sales-land and inspects.

"Hosed?" I ask.

"Pretty good," Thomas says.  He's a pleasant perfectionist, which must be a winning formula for his career.  At least he can afford an eight-room house in an expensive town. 

I feel like this day was somehow stolen from me, like I'm selling my time - the hours of my life - until they're used up.  But then I'm just a carpenter.

Before I leave, Thomas asks me to check out a Casablanca fan somebody installed dead center over his king-size bed.  "It spins kinda fast," Thomas says.  "Is this thing gonna fly off?" 

Smiling, I say, "Maybe you should sleep with a pillow over your crotch.  Or a garbage can lid."

"Or a lady."  He guffaws.


"Just kidding," he says.

I check out the fan.  The mounting is firm, connections solid.

"You won't get de-hosed," I tell him.

I drive home by way of Highway 9 up into the mountains, then north along the ridge of Skyline Drive.  I have my arm out the window as the sun sinks toward the ocean turning golden hills aglow.  At Alpine Road I drop into the shadows of the canyons, the ranches, the forest, home to my kids and my wife.  I have a check for nine hours' pay.

Thomas is a salesman, living alone.

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