“Other Than Writing”
I have often thought about what I would like to do if I wasn’t a writer/critic and the answer has always been something where I deal with people. The work I do now is fairly solitary and I would like to do something where I interact.
The first thought that comes to mind is being a waiter. You know working at one of those places where the same people come in to eat and you could get involved in their lives. I have always enjoyed hearing different people’s stories and I think if you are a waiter then you get to hear them all the time.
Maybe that is just the sitcom influence in my life but I can see myself as the waiter of wisdom. The people would come in, I would take their order, I would deliver their food and then they would tell me their problems. By the time they left I would have offered sage advice and all would be right with their world. Doesn’t that sound like a great life?
If I wasn’t waiting tables then I might like to sell clothes. Again it is that interaction with individuals that would draw me to this. It certainly isn’t that I have a great fashion sense, so I couldn’t be responsible for recommending clothes to anyone. I would let them make their own selections while I conversed with them about their world.
People would come in and spend money but they wouldn’t mind because the conversation would be so good. I wouldn’t mind standing on my feet all day because I would have such a sense of helping others. Sounds good to me.
In my youth I worked as a “rod man” for the South Carolina Highway Department. I did it one summer while I was in law school. The job required me to ride around in a truck all day with the highway crew, then we would stop and they would do their thing. Eventually I would move to a certain spot and hold up the pole or rod so that they could make calculations.
I did this in the South Carolina summer when it was sunny every day. I got a great tan and used my time on the job to dream up my future. The people I worked with were the nicest group of people you would ever want to encounter. I also think that was the year Glen Campbell had a hit with “The Wittchita Lineman” and I had that song in my mind as I stood in the sun holding the pole. It kind of romanticized it.
There are so many alternative live s we can imagine in our heads. I have played the “what if” game so many times, but nothing I ever imagined would be half as good as the life I live today. God has blessed me with being able to do the things I love to do and to give me an outlet for my creative feelings.
Maybe others would have been happier had they chosen another path, but I am happy with where I am and the road to how I got here. The world of food serving and clothes selling will have to do without me. I have found my niche and love it.
Jackie K Cooper
Jackie K Cooper’s latest collection of stories, BACK TO THE GARDEN, will be published by Mercer University Press in March of this year.