Monday, November 07, 2005

Hemingway Might've Punched Him

I have lately been reading and loving Ernest Hemingway, Selected Letters. This book has gone everywhere I have gone; I read it with every free minute that I find. In it one will find a scathing letter to Sen. Joe McCarthy, a letter about the day that old Hem checked out F. Scott's manhood for him and gave him a nice critique, and a letter where the writer complains that he wishes he had gone to college because he is unhappy in his current career, something I am known to do.

Last night, I had it with me while I made some shuttle runs from the airport. A well meaning guest saw the book and remarked positively to his friends and to I that I was quite possibly the only shuttle driver in the world who reads Hemingway. He really did mean well and was very kind and very bright (a pharmaceutical scientist). But that really rubbed me wrong. While this is a job which does not require much in the way of formal education, I am sure that there are very many people who work jobs like mine who are avid readers and deep thinkers. Hell, Hem himself was not highly schooled and he did more than just read Hemingway.

So, while I felt that internal twinge at his remark, silently defending those of a different socioeconomic class, a part of me knows that I am lacking important ambition in life to be able to even hear that statement. It's often that guests have asked what my real job was, likely assuming that this was only a part time job for me. Assuming that there is something "better" that I give my time to. Nope, this is it. I read, I write, and I punch a clock. And people who don't even know me are disappointed in my lot in life.

I really need to get my resumé worked up and get busy living. But for tonight, I will really give them something to talk about. Now where's my copy of Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche?


Kat Coble said...

I hate the whole "your job defines you" crap. There are quite possibly more literate and autodidactical people in the service professions than in the mainstream "world-beater" jobs. A high-powered career takes a lot more personal time and involvement. It leaves you less free to read, to write and to learn various disciplines.

My favourite song to describe all of this is Van Morrison's "Cleaning Windows". He describes the pure fun of a laidback day washing windows in Dublin and getting to know the music that he loved.

melusina said...

Yea, good lord, there are plenty of people who "punch a clock" to pay the bills but get plenty out of the rest of their life. To even make that sort of judgment about you was, well, ignorant.

Does he really want to be defined by what he does? Because there are plenty of stereotypes to go around.

Rex L. Camino said...

Faulkner worked as a night watchman at Ole Miss while writing The Sound and the Fury.

Chez Bez said...

Hey Rex,

I love hearing stuff like that.