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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Non-worker takes daughter to work

I was reminded again last week how even the best of intentions can become corrupted by individual realties. There’s “Take Your Daughter To Work Day,” for instance.

I’m sure when organizers came up with this noble idea, they envisioned bright, fresh-faced girls heading to some corporate office so they could spend a day watching their mommies and daddies conducting productive meetings in organizational settings where everyone’s bright, shiny and can daily demonstrate they’re contributing to society’s overall good.

In fact, those are probably the exact sorts of jobs the very organizers had the day they dreamed up with the idea in first place, the uppity showoffs.

Guaranteed, the guys who haul my trash didn’t think it up. Nice guys doing a job you can argue is more necessary than most, but it’s doubtful they’re ever hanging off the back of the stinking truck thinking, “Oh, how I wish my daughter could see how I heaved that last bin of trash! I wish she could have seen me frisbee the lid over into yonder bushes!”

Same goes for folks working in slaughterhouses, sewage plants and other pivotal, but unheralded jobs.

And the same goes for me.

It’s not that I’m ashamed of what I do for a living. Far from it. It’s just that I set a terrible example for anyone who’s been taught we all need to be ambitious and work hard to get anywhere in life.

With me, it’s been just the opposite, and that wasn’t the lesson I wanted to impart to our 7-year-old daughter, Josie, when circumstances meant she could either spend the day with the sitter or tagging along with how I spend a normal day.

“I promise I won’t bother you, Daddy! Please, please, I’ll let you work!”

With those words, she proved she’s mastered one requirement in any number of demanding fields. She’s a really fine liar.

During the one usually productive segment of my at-home morning -- writing this no-pay blog -- she pestered and distracted me without end. She asked if she could play on mommy’s computer (no), if I’d play “Battleship” (no), if she could watch TV (no), and if I’d come with her to the woods to poke a really big spider with a stick (yes).

I’d planned on devoting that day at the office to re-working a story on the upcoming 9/11 commemorations of Flight 93 at nearby Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Instead, I imparted her with another lesson likely to doom her from future career advancement:

When faced with distractions and obstacles, don’t try and overcome them. Just give up.

That’s what I did. I took her for a long sunshine walk along the nearby train tracks. That finished off the morning and meant it was time for one of my favorite parts of the day.

The Price is Right!

If the day’s going smoothly, I can usually time the instant my rear end hits the bar stool with Rich Fields’ announcement that -- DA! da! Da! DAAAA! -- it’s time for the Showcase Showdown! I have great memories of my old man taking me into bars with him for lunch so I thought she should see where I eat most lunches when I’m not home watching TPIR with the family.

I don’t think she ever realized the show was such a spectator sport. One of my buddies was screaming at the set when some lame brain bid $21,000 on a camper combo worth, he said, at least twice that much: “You shouldn’t be allowed on the show if you’ve never bothered to watch it!” he screamed (he was right on the money, too. It was $42,150).

It was fun for me to look into her little brown eyes and see the dawning awareness that much older men were just as childish as her little boyfriends who were about to enter second grade.

The part, I’m sure, she’ll remember most vividly was what we did after lunch. It’s something I’ve been doing on and off for the better part of the 18 months I’ve worked in the tiny apartment overlooking the bar’s rear parking lot.

We stood behind the curtains waiting for cars to park or depart. The instant the drivers closed their car doors, I’d remotely deploy my car horn alarm with my own key set, instigating panic and confusion among the drivers and their parties.

Twice we had befuddled drivers set off their own horns in vain efforts to silence mine. Together, we roared at the chaos.

So that was my impromptu take-my-daughter-to-work day.

To sum up, I produced something inconsequential that’ll be quickly forgotten. I romped about in the sunshine. Played a few jokes. Laughed with a loved one. Didn’t earn a dime.

Come to think of it, that about sums up my entire career, too.

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