Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Good Worker

If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times in my growing up period on the bald prairie! It may have been one of those prairie truisms that arose out of pioneer stock and depression realities. It was a black and white judgement and it comprised largely criteria that if you were one of those workers it entailed, time spent, muscle, consistancy and promptitude, rather than cleverness! My dad had a lot to say about people who were for him, not good workers; a beard was an indication of this, as well as those who had their hands in their pockets. Imbued as I was with his mantra I never wanted to appear as if I wasn't in constant motion, doing something, almost anything as long as there appeared to be action to avoid being labelled a bad worker. As an old man I still have an unreasonable fear to be seen lolling about if a cleaning woman or gardener or some sort of tradesperson is here serving us. I race to get dressed in my work clothes before they arrive. Loath to be seen as one of the idle rich! I drive the pianist crazy with my eye on the clock when an appointment looms as if I may not appear on time. I have never grown a beard or put my hands in the pocket without immediately withdrawal of something from it; anything! When we first went to England as a young man in 1961 to live and work as an orthopedic registrar, the pianist and I were invited to a large cocktail party by way of initiation to the community, a mixed gathering. One gentleman of about 40 that I met, I asked in the usual Canadian manner of starting a polite conversation, "What do you do?" "Nothing," he said, "Mummy left me pots!" He smiled indulgently! Canadian eh! I don't think I have ever heard that since, nor had I heard it before, given as a simple statement of fact without a scintilla of embarrassment. Coming from a working class prairie environment I found myself in awe of his genuine self satisfaction that didn't need to scurry around and appear to be working in order to justify one's existence! I don't think I ever achieved that sense of comforting entitlement. Still haunted by reward and punishment. Who knew!

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