When you have a steady job in a settled position in a fixed location for regular hours you have a set of pat answers for Kipling’s faithful serving men:
What: your position. Your station in the world. That is you.
When: 8.:30 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon all week – 10:00 to 1:00 on every fourth Saturday.
How: Clock in, turn on the computers, sell and talk and lift heavy objects.
Where: The Shop. The blessed Shop.
Who: You and about 17 other souls.
Why: Basic wage – the money that buys food and rates and electricity and healthcare.
When you do not have that steady job, you are confronted by the same serving men but the answers are different:
What: What indeed? If I am not a working salesman or dentist or arsonist or Prime Minister, what am I? The mirror says ” a middle aged man just turning the corner of the lane that runs over the hill “. My wife says I am a husband and my daughter says I am a father. None of these have changed with the shutting of the shop door.
When: Any old damn time I please, now. I can rise at 6:00AM as is my wont and shower and shave and vote for the Democratic Party just as before…but if I am not ready to exit the door at 7:00 it will not really matter. Wiggle room.
How: How you do anything. If it is shopping, you shop. If it is cleaning the house you clean the house. If it is taking toy car or dancing girl pictures it is just the same as before.
Where: EVERYWHERE. Every blessed where. Not stuck behind a counter top or a Belmont 020 chair looking out the door at life passing by.
Who: Me. Or me and the wife. Or me and a mate. Or me and a social club full of mates. Or a room full of jiggly dancers.
Why: Because I can. I will not starve or parch. I will not have Fabergé eggs or European vacations or BMW’s on my savings but I will have regular eggs and trips to Melbourne and my Suzuki Swift. I will work for my family’s comfort and my own peace of mind. I may find part-time work for money but it will not be the full week chained to a chair or counter again.
I am not going to run off to join the circus, but I intend to invite the elephants and clowns and girls in spangly tights to run off and join me.