Thursday, September 12, 2019


The theme for August was "dereliction of duty." Scheduling needs in my personal life led me to take a week off during the height of August business, and then to take Labor Day Weekend off as well. My mother should have planned her birth better, back in 1929. The situation to which I returned reminded me that people who work in service businesses should have no life outside of work. We should be available at all times to meet the needs of customers.

Customer need can be unpredictable, even if you know what to expect from general seasonal trends. To serve the public the best, have no other demands on your time. The ideal service provider is skilled, intelligent, good natured, adaptable, and a solitary orphan with no outside interests. When a work load suddenly goes from nearly nothing to overload, settle in for late nights and early mornings until the customers are taken care of. People with the budget and leisure time to ride for pleasure have obviously made better life choices, and deserve your immediate and complete obeisance. Worker bees like yourself, who use their bikes for transportation deserve your comradely support. If the work load is light, enjoy the respite, but don't get accustomed to free time. When business vanishes as it always does, you'll need whatever you have managed to save up to keep yourself alive until demand rises again.

I was never good at this. My job was always a way to finance my life. Years ago, the low-level day jobs seemed like a normal part of a writer's life -- and they are. But there are millions of us who never got any further than the life of a grunt with big dreams. They aren't even huge dreams, just comfortable middle class dreams. But the means of obtaining them was more important than the things themselves. With an influx of wealth, I would still live as I do, traveling a bit more, and contributing financially to important and under-funded needs of the ecosystem and society more than I am able to do in my paycheck-to-paycheck existence. I really like just sitting in my clearing in the woods, watching nature be nature. When I do get to go somewhere else, it's mostly to watch nature there. If I had a fortune, I would spend a good bit of it to buy land and leave it alone.

The pile of repair work at the start of September was a little surprising. It shouldn't be. We usually see a flurry of people who waited until they thought the summer rush was over, and then jammed up in the doorway as they all brought their stuff in at once. Add to that some post-season vacationers and one or two local riders in a jam, and you get a daunting tangle of urgent crap requiring skilled labor, stat. On my first day back at work after my last dereliction, I thought that I should probably just sleep at the shop for a few nights, so I could work until I dropped and resume when I crawled back to consciousness. I have plenty of trouble crawling back to consciousness at the best of times. Much as I know I should be fanatically devoted to work, my pace is a dogged plod. When closing time comes, I'm headed for the door, no matter how I might have imagined myself a few hours earlier.

Between my efforts -- less drastic than taking up temporary residency -- and the arrival of reinforcements with the Saturday crew, we managed to push through the bulge and leave the docket manageably light before I took my precious days off. The things I did in August were enjoyable, but not entirely relaxing, and they took me away from routine chores around the homestead as winter clicks inexorably closer.

The dregs of summer are at the same time precious and not worth anything. In this hilly and tree-covered part of New England, a single cloud shadow can change the character of the day. The effect is magnified when viewed through the frame of a window. The sun already has little enthusiasm except at the height of afternoon. Clouds conspire to help it slink away. Morning fog conceals its rise. It seems like hardly any time has passed since we were waiting under May and early June's broadening expanse of daylight for some warmth to go along with it.

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