Friday, May 28, 2010

Scales - Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich - June 7, 1954

I have spent the last nine years of my life sitting in a somewhat comfortable chair in a climate controlled office surrounded by hundreds of books and piles of newspapers, facing a computer screen, tapping in letters and numbers into software and applications, drinking coffee and tea, eating hot food as the world outside of my office continues to spin and others live lives much more uncomfortable than mine.

When I was younger, I thought about what my life was going to be like when I was...well...this age.

I figured that I wanted to be in an office doing office work rather than outside digging ditches. I wanted to be my own boss and have the time to do what I wanted to do.

Well, I have that. I’m not my own boss, but I have an extraordinary amount of freedom in my work.

I have settled down and am quite comfortable in my work.

These short stories allow me to experience life outside of my comfortable office window. “Scales” took me to a part of America that most of us rarely think about. It caused me to reflect on my own life and work and realize how fortunate I am to have been given so much in my life. The color of my skin, the country I call home, the opportunities I have been afforded, the knowledge I have gained...all of these and more add up to where I am today and where I will be tomorrow.

“Scales” caused me to look at those people, workers, who sit at scales day after day...or stand and sit in mind numbing jobs and wonder where in their lives they took a path that placed them where they are.

There is a neighbor of ours who works at a little restaurant down the street form our home.

He is my age and spends from 10:00 until 9:00 in the evening at the restaurant working. After that, he buys a 12 pack of beer and from what I can tell...consumes the entire half case. Empties fill the trashcans between our places.

He wakes up the next day and does it all over again. Is he happy? Is this what he thought he would be doing while I was thinking the same thing 25 years ago?

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