Ha! Here I thought I'd be ready with the next part of my "routine" post in a day, and then my routine went all bonkers for a week.
Do you have a day job? What's your work schedule like? Do you look forward to going to work?
I started this little series because I realized that what's most interesting about other people is what they do every day - how they function, what they enjoy, how they get through the parts they don't enjoy. People may feel these moments are too boring to share because they've personally lived through them thousands of times. But these are the moments entire lives are made of.
Personally, I'd like to hear a little more about how "ordinary" people do "ordinary" things.
After two hours of commuting, I arrive at work.
This portion of the day goes into its own mental compartment, proceeding along its own set of tracks.
A job that requires regular hours and a steady schedule is rare as gold in retail, and I'm grateful for it. I’ve spent years doing things like working until midnight only to get up early for a 7 AM meeting the next. Why do corporations feel abusing their staff this way is going to get better performance out of them? The whole corporate approach to work is a misery machine.
So I’m also grateful to be working at an independently owned shop where the boss’ attitude is: do whatever you want, as long as things get done.
Admittedly, it took me a while to work out what those things should be.
Mostly I do this: say hello to the fellow who opened the store and catch up while I pack my third pipe of the day. (Another decision here: which blend? We’ve make over 20,000!) Count some money and do a bit of paperwork. Greet the boss and the mid-day guy as they arrive. Pack and ship a bunch of orders. Catch up on the accounting. (So this is the Quickbooks all those movie-star accountants have been talking about...) Re-stock cigars. Answer emails and send invoices.
I could never do any of these things all day long. (Seriously, how do office workers keep it up?) But doing all of them a little actually has me looking forward to every day.
Additionally: Photograph products and then edit the images and then write up descriptions and post them to a web site. Help customers out front when things get busy or my partners are at lunch. Not to mention: sweep, and clean glass, and empty ashtrays and bins and answer the phones and ream and polish and restore the occasional pipe the the basement workshop.
As for that basement workshop:
I’m itching to get down there and learn more about pipe-making. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, and now all the tools and materials are right here, and the knowledge and expertise of two guys who have been turning and carving pipes for decades!
But there are only so many hours in the day.
There is a break for lunch, of course.
As someone who isn’t particularly interested in food, this can be an anxious time. There are at least 100 places to eat within a five minute walk of the shop, and I cycle through about five of them. I could probably save a bit of money by packing a sandwich and carrying it into the city on my back like a turtle. But if there’s anything more boring than eating, it’s cooking, so I allow myself the indulgence of a daily meal out. The additional cost isn’t really that much (have you seen the price of groceries lately? Outrageous!) and it’s an opportunity to take a moment of pleasure from the necessity of sustenance.
The boss is always encouraging me to take longer lunch breaks. “You work too hard. Go sit down somewhere.” So, as uncomfortable I am with this largess, I try to hunt down something substantial. Since I only have the patience for one real meal a day, it might as well be while I’m “on the clock,” so to speak. (Not that we own a time-clock.)
My lunchtime anxiety comes from the awareness that the afternoon is going to be hard.
It’s not that work duties are any more onerous at that time. (Traffic on the floor may pick up a bit, but that just means we shift our focus.) But my usual narcoleptic cycle puts me into a heavy-lidded fugue state from 2 to 4 PM, where the muscles ache and the mind retreats into a fog. I lose about 20 functional points of IQ during these hours. So I seek out rote tasks with some element of physical activity to them. Let’s clean the glass showcases and windows! Let’s empty the trash! Let’s fill the humidifiers in the humidors! Let’s walk to the bank!
The boss has been encouraging me to nap. “You’re tired! I’m worried about you!”
So far I haven’t taken him up on this offer. If I do indulge in such a break - down in the dusty basement office, say - I’m likely to be out of commission for hours. I’m grateful for the offer, but it’s the type of insurance one hopes never to use.
Instead I consume several cups of tea along with the fourth and fifth pipes of the day, and power on until a later wave of energy pushes me to pack the day’s final orders and wind up my responsibilities.
One more part to come. Tomorrow, maybe. Probably.
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Camera divider and signature illustration by @atopy.
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