80% of this job involves sitting at a desk in front of a computer flanked by stacks of books and haphazardly arranged files, kept company by a stealthily reproductive family of 17 thumb drives and a blanket of post-it notes. Much of what happens at the computer is quite interesting. But the other 20% of my work time sees a little more physical action and a change of scenery.
It’s during the 20% portion that it’s often necessary for a little pinch reminder that yes, this is my reality. It might be because that Civil War soldier is eating Cheetos. But has he signed an appearance release yet?
It could stem from the fact that the 1919 synagogue where we’re rearranging pews used to be adjacent to a Beacon Hill brothel. (Bostonites – Did you ever think you’d hear “Beacon Hill” and “brothel” in the same sentence? Heck no! But be quick and pass the embroidered khakis and sockless boat shoes before John Kerry spots us).
Perhaps it comes when I have to ask a skeptical building manager if he’ll please give me access to the icy roof of this 50+story building in mid-January to take a few pictures in between 60 mph wind gusts? Thanks, and I promise not to set off the emergency exit alarm again on my way out.
Or maybe: Do I know how to hang brocade curtains in a shuttered hospital wing? No, but I’ll take a crack at it if you hand me the staple gun. Where is Frederick Douglass supposed to sit again?
No matter what or where or how, that 20% is way fun. And even if it doesn’t teach me how to manage my 401K instead of stashing my savings of Sacajawea coins in a Bass shoebox under the bed, it enforces my enormous respect for all the people out there that do know how to do that. And who keep the traffic lights working and their kids’ noses clean and administer flu shots, or who run volunteer organizations or help others with taxes or translate legal documents.
Everybody finds themselves in some strange places sometimes – where’s the randomest place you’ve been as a result of your job?