Stories / By Age / College /
I need to concentrate some points already made into a clear context. College is palmed on us on the one hand as career training, on another hand as education, as philosophy: love of knowledge, joy at skill. College was a major place where I learned to be perpetually unemployed, an utterly new condition for me. I’d always worked: I’d always made money: way more than I ever wanted or needed to spend: until I was spending it on college, then more college, then more university, no income ever covering it. When I was a kid cash accumulated in my bedroom drawer. In college, cash disappeared, debt accumulated. Work that gave me pleasure disappeared; work that gave me a pain in the ass accumulated.
Anyway: quick summary: 1956, I graduate high school. I give up my years old job at the supermarket: where I’ve been loved and respected since age sixteen. I slide into a political job with the Parks and Recreation Department of Rockville Centre. In the supermarket I worked with people who worked, and drank, and married, and had children, and had affairs at work … The Parks Dept was utterly different. There was a commissioner, a political job, there were a couple of year round morons: and a gaggle of wise-ass college kids. That is, some were entering their sophomore year at college, some, like me, were about to enter freshman year at college.
1957 the commissioner knew I didn’t like the other college boys and that they didn’t much like me. He took that pan off the fire by moving me over into the Sanitation Dept: OK by me, more pay, work hard, build up, go home when the work was done. I was fishing by 3 PM more afternoons. And the workers, whatever else they weren’t intellectually, had no intellectual or social pretensions. I liked them for the most part.
Ah, but still. I had income. I had spending money. Then came the summer of 1958. I thought I needed a summer school course. My buddy and I wound up renting a little Mexican shop in Greenwich Village. The whole summer turned over about $2 in profit. At least it kept us off the streets. But I was practicing what would become a lifetime of avoidance of ordinary work, ordinary ambitions, ordinary income: a career, money to live on, money and responsibility to build a normal family on.
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