Work


Dr. D. running for the Beatrice Corporate Marathon Team.

I’ve often heard that “work” is a four-letter word. No wonder I try to avoid it at all costs. But wait, “word” is also a four-letter word. Hm. And so is “four.”

The more I think about work, the less I like it. I’ve worked all of my adult life despite never having a job that I really loved, or at least liked even a little bit. I mean, I can work very hard as long what I do isn’t classified as “work.” If I have to do physical or intellectual labor for someone else, and hopefully, for a salary, I’m unhappy and resentful.

I can workout all day just for the fun of it because I’m doing it just for me. Years ago when I ran marathons, I used to run more that one-hundred mile weeks just because I loved running marathons and I wanted to run my fastest marathon possible.

One of my pet peeves of having a job is having a boss who bosses me around. But worse than me being ordered about by someone on a power trip who loves to exert his or her authority just to show everyone who’s the boss, is having me in charge and having me order people around.

When I worked at the peanut butter factory, I did repetitive, monotonous manual labor. My first job was stacking sixty cases of peanut butter on wooden pallets. Each case weighed about forty pounds. I learned how to save a step here, an arm movement there. When you work eight hours doing manual labor, every motion adds up. That was the only way to conserve my energy so I wouldn’t wear myself out. Sometimes when the assembly line broke down, I got to rest awhile. Eventually, I brought a paperback with me so I could read during my breaks and whenever the line was down. Well, my bosses couldn’t stand to see me sitting there doing nothing, so they would always find something for me to do like sweep the floor, stack pallets up, etc. Well, no matter how many things I was supposed to do during that downtime, I always figured out a way to do everything more efficiently. No matter. I still always had time to sit and read. My boss finally gave up on finding more tasks for me.

My mother used to get mad at me because I didn’t aspire to get promoted or take better paying positions such as mechanic. My mother coached me as to what to say whenever I was approached to advance on the job. The boss would usually ask if I could do a certain task and I was supposed to answer, “No, but I can learn!” Every time I was asked, I would say, “No, I don’t know how.” “Would you like to learn?” “No.” And that would be the end of my climbing the company ladder.

Somehow, my mother would always find out about my new job offer and yell at me for not accepting the promotion. She would call me lazy and unambitious. Back then I was really into kung fu, so on my days off I would work out all day. I want to build up my endurance and stamina. In fact, at work I could work tirelessly for hours. Then, one day, against my wishes–due to a shortage of manpower–I was promoted to assistant foreman on one of the peanut butter production lines. Suddenly, I found myself having to boss my fellow employees around. And they didn’t like it! They liked me well enough as a coworker, but hated me as their boss. One possible reason was because I was younger than them. I was caught in the middle. My boss would give me orders to get certain things done, and I had to make the workers work. Well, absolutely no one obeyed any of my commands. So, silently, I started doing all the work that had to be done. And everyone just watched me. I didn’t complain. I just kept working, minding my own business. I didn’t know what else to do. At least, I wouldn’t get in trouble for not working. Eventually, everyone start working alongside me. I was shocked! When we were done, the foreman showed up and congratulated us on a job well-done. After that, I never bossed anyone around, but everyone did their job before I even had to tell them. Go figure!

Running


Even though it was 95 degrees, I finished 8th place in 2:44!

I’m enjoying my summer vacation from teaching so far. I get up whenever I feel like. I have a cup of black coffee while I rub the sleep from my eyes. I more or less kill time and stall before I go out my front door for my morning run before it gets too hot out. Lately, I’ve been slowing down on my runs. I’m not sure if it’s due to age and/or allergies. Of course, I’ve had these experiences before, even when I was in my twenties. I have been running, on and off again, since high school. I first started running when I was at Divine Heart Seminary when I joined the cross country team. For some reason I wanted to be on a school team because I thought it would be cool. My first race was the Marshall County Cross Country Championship in Indiana. Since I didn’t know any better, I ran alongside the lead pack right from the start. After about a mile, I suddenly slowed down to a crawl, or so it seemed to me. I’m not sure where I placed, but I received a ribbon. I have one run that I will never forget: I was running on some backwoods road in Camp Pendleton when I felt someone running alongside me. I looked over my shoulder and saw a coyote. At first, I was startled, but I continued running as if this were normal. The coyote and I ran together for about five minutes before we went our separate ways. Well, enough stalling! I am now going out for my morning run.

Hello, coyote! Where are you running to?

Mexico City Olympics


Mexico D.F.

After Carlos Mojaro moved back to Mexico, we just didn’t have as much fun as before. Most of the time we just played baseball in the prairie or just sat on somebody’s porch talking about the good old days. Then we saw the Mexico City Olympics on TV, mainly because our parents were so proud of the fact that an international event could take place in Mexico. So all my friends and I watched the Olympics religiously.

I especially liked the track and field events, but I also liked women’s gymnastics. Whenever we talked about the Olympic events we watched, we couldn’t help but act them out. Soon we started up our own Olympics. For the shotput, we through a brick in my backyard. Luckily, we weren’t strong enough to throw it out of the yard. We had competitions in many events. We even made charts with the athlete and team standings and the “world records” that we had achieved. After watching the Olympic marathon, we were amazed that anyone could run 26 miles. However, as we discussed this amazing feat, we realized that when we were very active on those long summer days, we ran quite a lot distance without realizing it. I even suggested that we could probably run a marathon if we tried. There was some dissension amongst us at first. But then we decided to put ourselves to the test.

There were about fifteen of us and we decided that we would run the Mexico City Olympic Marathon. I felt as if Carlos Mojaro was still with us. Well, we didn’t exactly know how a long marathon was, and since our mothers wouldn’t let us cross the street, we decided to run around the block until we competed the marathon or dropped dead like Phidippides. I didn’t know much about running back then, but I did know that we had to pace ourselves to go the distance.

After the opening ceremony, we toed the line and ran at sound of the exploding firecracker. Douglass sprinted from the start and only made it around the block once. The rest of us ran as a pack as we had observed the Olympic marathoners do. I’m not sure how long our Chicago city blocks are, but I believe our block at 4405 South Wood Street was about one-third of a mile when we ran completely around. As we ran around the block we would shout out the lap number as we passed my house. It was getting dark fast. We were actually having fun running around the block in the Mexico City Olympic Marathon.

My mother came out to see what was going on because a crowd had gathered in front of my house. We didn’t actually expect to have any spectators. This was just like the Olympics! By lap ten, a few runners had dropped out of the race. The spectators shouted out the lap numbers with us. About lap twenty, my mother said it was time to go in the house. My friends’s mothers were also waiting for their sons to go home. My mother insisted that I go inside so my brothers would go home, too. I knew if I went in, then the marathon would stop and everyone would go home. I begged my mother, without breaking my stride, to let us keep running a little longer. We ran a few more laps and we were still having fun, but we were also getting tired and starting to feel pain in our legs. When we reached lap 27, my mother said that if I didn’t go in right now, she would beat me: ¡Te voy a dar una paliza! That was just the excuse we needed to save face. There were only six of us left running and we all complained to our mothers about interrupting our marathon. But we all went home, secretly thankful to our mothers for saving us from embarrassment.

However, we always felt great about our running accomplishments. We always talked about how much farther we could have run if weren’t for our mothers stopping us. Of course, we never attempted to run another marathon either.

Nothing in moderation


95 degrees and humid!

When I do something, I go all out or I don’t do it all. That’s the story of my life. When I decide to do something, anything, I go all out and dedicate all my energy to doing it, whatever “it” is. I do everything in excess. And I only do nothing in moderation. Wait, now that I think of it, I do nothing in excess, too. I can fully indulge in doing nothing for hours, days, nay, months at a time. Moderation is only an entry in the dictionary to me. If I do so something, I must do it in excess. When I trained to run a marathon, I ended up running thirteen. If something is worth doing in moderation, it’s even more fun to do it in excess. I think Nietsche was on to something when he said, “What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.”