Thursday, September 2, 2010

Off the Grid - 3, many jobs now?

For a person with no job, I've been very busy working at my assorted part-time jobs this summer.
The good news is my new (ish)  respect for the working poor and everyone else who pushes a rock up a hill every day. I guess I didn't need those illusions after all.

As the Knuckle used to say, "Be glad you're not working in a factory." True enough, though grading papers for the online college can often feel that way. With any piece-work kind of job, the urge to get the work done quickly and so earn more money, must be balanced against the artist's desire to do the job well, i.e., to make each piece unique. I do feel that compulsion while reading the majority of the autobiographies I'm paid to read. But I also feel the impulse to get the job done and so have at times turned my own office into a factory where I am strapped to a chair for ten hours, fingers on the keyboard and mouse, cutting and pasting comments with my heart and mind elsewhere. I rise from this dizzy and subdued, but I rise earlier than on the days when I know what I've written to every student...and this, of course, is the reason.

How often do we turn ourselves into slaves? The antidote for me, as far as this particular gig goes, is to pay attention to the lives I'm privileged to read. True, most people are not very articulate about their histories, but given the limited number of stories, there are plenty who tell the half dozen variations well enough to give a clear picture. For the rest, I rely on sheer volume. Our online schools are filled with people who don't know where the commas go, couldn't identify a conjunction and have more use but less reason for the conditional tense than is necessary.  A year ago I didn't know why this was so. Now I do.  They were absent the day those lessons were taught. In the essays I read, I discovered what they were doing.

stay tuned.

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