Money is tight around here. Desperately tight. My time as a Stay At Home Dad might be coming to an end. My wife and I still want me here with the kids during the day, getting them up and fed breakfast and dressed and off to school. I still want my day free to do laundry and yardwork and remodeling on the house. And day care is freaking expensive, at the wages I could make going back to work as a carpenter, two thirds of my income would be going to pay someone else to raise my kids.
So I have decided to look for a night job.
Last night I went for a tour of the UPS hub, looking at a position as a Package Handler during the Twilight Sort. There were about twenty other people in my tour. And as we each walked up to the guard shack and signed in, we were instructed to wait over by this picknic table. I was the fourth one there, and I sat down at the last open corner of the table. Now, that table would have held all twenty of us easily, but only four of us sat there. Each stranger stood about six feet from the others. We could have each extended our arms and not touched another person.
I found this interesting. There was more than enough room for each of us to sit, had we been willing to touch another human being. But we chose not to.
During the tour I was surprised by the cramped working conditions. It was a labyrinth of twisting walkways and cramped work stations. There was a row of perhaps sixty to eighty people standing shoulder to shoulder in front of a conveyer belt, receiving packages which they then sorted into one of the nine slots behind them. They had barely enough room to turn around.
So much for personal space.
I could tell some of the applicants were seriously turned off by the conditions and type of work presented. Not me. I’ve been doing physical labor for fifteen years now, I am no stranger to it. In fact, I miss it. This sedentary life I have chosen is not good for me. I need to move, to stretch, to strain and work my muscles.
It seemed as though each of us were simply not used to being that close to people, to touching. No else sat at the table in a way that would have required us to touch. We have become too distant from each other, separated by chat rooms and cell phones.
For me, the personal space I value is not so much the space around me, as it is my home. My home is inviolate, sacred. My time with my children is personal space that I value. I don’t want to give that up any more than those other applicants wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder with me, and that is why I won’t take another job that would require me to give up that time. Some people would never want to give up their evenings, but right now I would rather have my mornings and days with my children.
My writing is also a kind of personal space for me. A way to work out stress or ideas or worries, a way to express myself, to stretch my creative muscles, a way to exercise my mind. I think part of the reason I have not been able to write very much lately is this lack of exercise. I have access to the computer all day, ideas don’t build up for hours while I am working, ready to burst onto the screen the moment I sit down at the keyboard.
So I am hoping this job will help with that. Get me out of the house for five hours a day, to let my creative mind wander, to build up imaginative steam, till I am ready once again to sit down at the keyboard and write.