Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The cheerful worker

Dear Hannah,

I don’t care what people say — I refuse to believe that a man who’s a drag at work is a good man in whole.  Eight hours a day are spent at work, at the very least; eight hours are spent at home, and eight hours are spent sleeping — at least, if a man is sensible enough to get himself some sleep.  Work may only be a third of a man’s entire day, but it is half of his waking hours, and if a man’s a drag to be around for half a day, I say he’s entirely bad — especially if that’s the only portion of the day I see him.

It’s no use to me or almost anyone else, one way or another, if a man is enjoyable company before or after work: am I going to see him every day before and after work?  Are any of us?  I assume at least half of that time is spent personally: a man has to shower and eat and such, and if he has a family, then he’s likely to be spending time with them (which can be another kind of work in itself).  If he isn’t spending time with them, it’s more a wonder if they — particularly his wife — will spend any more time with him. Perhaps if he’s as sour with her as he is with the rest of us, it’s better if she doesn’t.

To live for an hour or two at the end of the day is almost like saying we shouldn’t live at all; the reality of the matter is, our lives are our work, and our work is our life.  We can pretend as long as we want that our life at work and our life at home or wherever it is that the average man goes are entirely separate things; but there is one thing that is along with us wherever we go, and that thing is us.  That is why we call it our life. And I say that if a man is sour at work, for those half of his waking hours — if he can’t bring himself to meet his day manfully and cheerfully — then he’s a sour man, or not really a man at all.  If a man is a good man, he brings light and joy wherever he goes; if it’s the environment that makes the man, then we would never say the man is good when he’s in a good environment.  We would simply say that his environment was pleasant, and leave it at that.  Nobody cheers a man for being chivalrous with a beautiful woman, and nobody should cheer a man for being pleasant when he’s out drinking.  It’s time we stopped thinking the opposite about work.

Your father,

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