It was on a temperamental treadmill in downtown Atlanta that I realized I could never be a traveling salesman or part of any profession that made me go out on the road repeatedly. Don’t get me wrong: I love to travel. But I hate it almost as much as I love it.
I like seeing new things getting out and experiencing a distant city, a new culture, new sights, whatever. But I hate living out of a suitcase and having my regular routines snapped in half and shredded to bits.
Take, for instance, running. I have to run, and it’s not so easy when you travel, especially in a city like Atlanta. There I was in the hotel, the thought of traveling outside into the blustery cold to roam the bleak and desolate streets of that concrete and asphalt wasteland about as appealing as going underwear shopping.
It was painfully cold, and as far as I could tell, there were no trees and no squirrels to chase.
Enter the treadmill. It was a nice hotel with a nice gym, and since I’ve never belonged to a gym and never really run on a treadmill, I thought I would give it a shot. Besides, that’s what all those other business travelers seem to do. And if they can do it, why not me?
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What is it about human beings that we get so excited over everyday, who-gives-a-toot stuff? And it divides right down the middle for men and women.
“There’s nothing more exciting to a little girl than a comb and a brush,” my wife said as my daughter ran about the house the other night with both those objects. She looked like a deranged caveman with that big round brush hoisted high above her head like a club. As it swung wildly, the dog high-tailed it for Mexico.
For me, the heavens opened up and sang a chorus of “Hallelujah” when I brought home pegboard for my shed the other day. Yes, I will repeat that: like a doo-wop quartet of angels sang to me while I brought home pegboard.
We all get our simple pleasures from the most mundane things.
I can’t explain to you why pegboard got me in a tizzy. You do know what pegboard is, don’t you? It’s a big, thin sheet of pressed cardboard that you screw to the wall of a shed or workspace. It’s covered in holes, which lets you stick all manner of metal holders, hooks and “pegged” containers upon it so you can hang your tools in plain view and marvel at how rusty and crappy they look. Think of it as a vertical tetanus delivery system.
For some reason, it’s always been my dream to have a shed lined with pegboard. Maybe I thought it was a sign that I finally made it in the world, or arrived at the point where I’m a proper man with proper tools and a proper shop. Or maybe it’s that I’ve just grown tired of going in there, stepping on some tool lying on the ground that then reaches up like a snake and snaps me on the shin.
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Oh no, has the balance of time finally tipped against me? Have I reached some age demarcation line that says something about who I am, where I’m going and how once taut parts of my body will start to sag like an elephant’s ears? Am I going to start drinking mocha lattes, playing golf and shopping for affordable mid-size sedans, all because I’m turning 35?
This month, yes, I’m turning 35. I don’t have a problem with it really. I’ve never had a problem with age. Turning 30 didn’t mean much to me, other than I had made it a whole three decades without losing any fingers or toes via the dumb things I do.
Age, I will always believe, is 95 percent mental and 5 percent whether your knees still work. If you think young, and feel young, chances are you’ll stay young if only in your mind. That’s not a bad theory.
But something sounds a little off about 35. It’s just a strange number. Say it: Thirty-five.
It’s bland and boring, kind of a transition number. Not a number that’s exciting in any conceivable way. It doesn’t have the power or emphasis of the low numbers, and it doesn’t have the maturity or the weight of the high numbers. If you had to pick a number by random, no doubt you would never pick 35, and I bet a search of lottery winners finds none to ever have included this fella’. It’s the audible equivalent of cheap wallpaper, flat Coke, overcooked peas — the numeric equivalent of a savings bond. Solid, but no flash.
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Could somebody please tell me how we could be the greatest nation in the world, yet have to work so dang hard? And so often? Not in the rest of the world. No. I’m always hearing about how in Europe the average worker gets a total of 18 months of vacation each year. That is astounding, and wonderful.
But not us.
They have shorter work weeks, waiters come around dispensing cheese all day and they sing. They sing like they’re in a Disney movie!
And now I read about a Japanese company that gives you time off if you break up with a loved one and need a day or two to get over it. Huh? No doubt we are the greatest country in the world, but explain to me how we weren’t the ones to invent “break-up days.”
That’s just unfathomable.
I saw this in a Reuters story the other day. It was about a Japanese marketing firm that believes when a partner gives the other the shaft, it’s so traumatic that the jilted needs some time to grieve maybe even to go out and find a new significant other. And because it gets harder to recover the older you get, they give you more days as you age. Continue Reading »