A.C. Snow

Snow: On finding joy in your work

While perusing some of Pat Conroy’s writing, I came across a sad and startling statement by the writer who died a few weeks ago.

He remarked that his wife, Cassandra, was a much happier writer than he was.

“I’ll hear her cackle with laughter at some funny line she’s written,” he said. “I’ve never cackled with laughter at a single line I’ve ever written. None of it has given me pleasure. She writes with pleasure and joy, and I sit there in gloom and darkness.”

Conroy’s comments set me to wondering how many people find their life’s work absolutely joyless.

Monotonous? Yes. But totally joyless?

For example, not long ago I drove past a street maintenance crew working along a West Raleigh street with one lane closed to traffic. A young man was in charge of switching the “Stop” and “Go” sign to the backed up line of traffic.

Yes, eight hours a day of that could be brain-dead boring. It could seemingly make the lunch break as exciting as watching the Indianapolis 500.

A nephew of mine spent his working life lifting cartons of Camel cigarettes off a conveyer built in a Winston-Salem cigarette factory. When I asked how he endured the monotony, he replied, “The work of my hands is so routine that it frees my mind to travel wherever it pleases!”

How wondrously we are made. Although the body may be earthbound, the mind can wander the universe in search of stimulation and satisfaction.

No matter the nature of our work, those fortunate enough to enjoy it can identify with a comment by the late popular columnist, Erma Bombeck:

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.’”

Parker putdown

I enjoy Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker’s writing. But I bristled a bit over a sentence in a recent column that mentioned an encounter with our Gov. Pat McCrory while the two were in the makeup room before participating in an NBC panel discussion of N.C.’s HB2 legislation.

“We chatted in that Southern way – with Dentyne smiles and lizard eyes,” Ms. Parker wrote.

Now I have my differences with our governor, but “lizard eyes?” Nah. Southerners are more inclined to have “hound dog” eyes than “lizard eyes.”

First in what?

The raging controversy over HB2 has many Tar Heels worried about the state’s new image.

For decades, North Carolina’s license plates boasted that the state was “First in Flight.” Then came “First in Freedom” as an alternative choice.

With the HB2 legislature in session, don’t be surprised if the state’s motto becomes “First in Toilet Training.”

It’s for sure the honorables will never endorse “First in Stupidity” as the third choice.

Hiding house key

One of the small yet important decisions for most of us is where to leave the house key when we’re away from home. Recently, the subject came up in conversation.

Several years ago, three newspaper buddies and I, returning from a beach outing, stopped to drop off one of our group at his house, only to discover he was locked out, his wife having gone to church.

“She always leaves the key in the washing machine in the storage room,” he said confidently.

After sticking his hand, and eventually his head, into the washer and scouring around for the key, he finally gave up. She had forgotten, he said. He would have to just wait until she came home.

Most of you also have a secret hiding place for the house key.

A mother with young children once told me that when the family left town on vacation, she always hid her sterling silver in her washing machine, under a pile of dirty diapers. (That was before Pampers.)

“If they steal my silver, they will have earned it,” she said.

A friend tells me about a neighbor who left a note for her college-age son tucked inside the screen door: “We’ve gone out for dinner. The key is under the loose brick on the patio.”

Ah, a burglar’s dream.

Today’s grin

A reader passes along a favorite newspaper headline: “Man Shot in Recreation Area.”

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day.

I once asked a friend what he was giving his wife on Mother’s Day, he replied. “Nothing. She’s not my mother.”

He’s right, technically and biologically, but in a sense a mother usually mothers everybody in the family and beyond.

I imagine if we asked mothers what they wanted for Mother’s Day, a whole big bunch of ’em would say, “The day off.”

Happy day and thank you, all ye Moms out there.

Snow: 919-836-5636; asnow@newsobserver.com