Ed has found the perfect summer job. He isn't working there yet - but he wants to. He was quite excited when he told me about it after dinner last night.
What is this perfect job? I wondered. (Ed, remember, is 15.) Do they pay you to sleep? I asked. Or to play video games and look at naked girls?
No, apparently. But it seems I have the wrong idea about work.
That wouldn't be a job, Dad, he said. In order for it to be a job, it must be something you don't want to do.
(Sounds like Ed has fallen among Presbyterians, eh? If it's fun it can't be any good. Though his assessment is probably correct, at least in terms of what's available for teens in the workplace.)
So tell me about it, I said.
Turns out that the perfect summer job is (wait for it) working at the pool supply store in the mall. (I know -- I didn't guess either). Ed's friend Frederico is there now, and figures to get Ed in by next week. The best part of the job is sweeping the patio. They leave you alone, and you can wander off the patio for hours at a time. Frederico hung around the mall with me for an hour yesterday, he said, and got paid. Isn't that sweet?
I agreed. But you want to be careful, don't you. If they find you wandering around the mall, you'd get fired.
Ed stared at me. What are you saying, Dad?
I'm saying that if you get the job you should maybe stay close to the patio. Maybe even sweep it.
He shook his head. You just don't get it Dad. The job is perfect because you can wander away. If you don't wander away, it's not a perfect job.
I had to admit his point. Bit of a Catch 22.
Let me see if I understand your philosophy, I said. If you get paid to do nothing, and do nothing, it's not really work. But if you get paid to do something, and do nothing, then it's a good job.
Bingo! He patted me on the arm. He'd been eating a fudgesicle, messily, so it wasn't a perfect moment. But I had to smile.
Sounds like this summer job should be good training for your future career, I told him, rinsing my arm under the tap.
In pool supply?
Oh, no, I said. In politics.
Next time -- my publisher's new cover design.