Sunday, September 12, 2010

Work and the electric chair

One story in Half Italian is the homemade electric chair. In the 1930s, my mother and her cousins had no modern recreational facilities on their farm; they had to entertain themselves. My mother was one of only two girls, and she preferred to hang around the boys. One day the boys found an old magneto from a tractor engine (a device that creates pulses of electric power). They wired one end of the magneto to a metal chair and the other to a cranking device. They covered the chair with a thin cloth, and then they found my mother and asked her if she'd be willing to play a new game they created; would she be their "queen," they asked.

Trusting, and perhaps naive, my mother was the perfect opportunity; she thought the game sounded just great. She marched up to the chair with her arms extended out to her sides and sat down. The cousin who'd come up with the whole idea stood somewhere behind the chair and began to crank like mad. Yes, my mother was the perfect candidate for their joke, jumping off the chair with confused expressions, trying to reconcile the laughing of her cousins with the electric shocks she felt directly attacking her seat.

Work is hell these days. I'm glad for the paycheck but I sometimes feel like I've been put into my department's electric chair. Today is Sunday and once again I went into the office for a few hours. I feel pressure when I have a dentist appointment. Unlike the teasing of my mother's cousins, that pressure isn't presented in good humor. In an attempt to encourage me, my former manager a few days ago said she's going to begin a countdown of days until my departure to France next month. That kind of caring matters; it's something you can't buy.

Those who appreciate unique humor and genuine caring will appreciate Half Italian.

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