Unemployment not only leaves a hole in the bank account; it also leaves an intellectual and social hole. I miss the thought-provoking conversations with coworkers, the lunchtime gossip, and challenges of projects. In my three weeks of unemployment I have been looking for things that stimulate my brain and get me around other people – or just get me out of my house. My solution thus far? Grabbing one of my myriad of old textbooks and reading it at the bar. Yes, I read at the bar.
Last night I was reading “The Nature and Property of Soils”, 8th edition. Of course, bringing such a book into a bar solicits curiosity and questions from other bar patrons. Sometimes, this leads to interesting conversations. After all, I am reading about dirt.
A gentleman was soliciting jukebox requests from people seated at the bar. Apparently, he fancies himself as some kind of “bar DJ” concerned with his performance at music selection and attempting to influence the mood of the bar with his music selections. He asked my musical opinion and I replied, “MacArthur Park. Anything but MacArthur Park.”
He then noticed the book I was reading, and remarked how useful it is for people to study soil and erosion. He assured me that people like myself should always be in demand and that I should not have much difficulty finding a new job. He remarked how he is from Iowa, has a degree in agriculture from Virginia Tech, and his grandfather taught people in Louisiana how to grow rice. I thought I had met someone who could carry on an interesting conversation and potentially give me employment leads.
I asked him where he works now,
“I’m a caddy”, he replied.