It’s A Tough Job But Someone’s Gotta Do It

By Riley McDavid   Riley McDavid

Mrs. McDavid and I came home from a movie after dark one night last week, and as we got out of our car we spotted our neighbor Arnie staring off into the distance. “What are you looking at?” I asked him.

“The red light out there on top of the radio tower.  It’s real pretty. How do you suppose they change that thing when it burns out?”

“I’m just guessing, Arnie,” Mrs. McDavid said, “but I suspect someone has to climb up there and change it.”

“Now that’s something I’d like to do just once,” he said.  “What a view you’d get up there.” I shuddered at the thought, but he was quite serious. ”Something else I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be the guy at the airport that stands in front of the plane as it taxis up to the gate and holds those neon thingies telling the pilot when to turn and when to stop. That’s power! I’d be controlling a great big 767.”

 “Just once,” I said, “I’d like to be the guy at the driving range who drives around in the caged tractor with the things on the back that collects the golf balls.” 

Mrs. M. gave me a strange look, but I just shrugged. Then she got this sly smile on her face. “Here’s what I want to do,” and she paused as if waiting for a drum roll. Finally she said, “I want to referee the Super Bowl.”

“You just want power over men,” I said.

“You’re darn right. The bigger, the better. Can’t you just see me. ‘Fifteen yard penalty on number 67 for roughing the passer, and don’t scowl at me buster or I’ll give you another 15!’”

“She’s tough,” Arnie said.

“Oh, yeah. She really identified with Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side.”

“Okay,” she said.  “Let me tell you a job I wouldn’t want.  I wouldn’t want to be a toll taker at a bridge.  Too boring.”

I said I just couldn’t be a CHP officer.  “Imagine having to pull somebody over on a deserted stretch of road at night.  You don’t know who could be inside. That’s scary.”

Dental“I couldn’t be a dentist, “ Arnie said. “Imagine pulling someone’s tooth. Or a heart surgeon with all that blood and everything.”

”But aren’t you glad somebody does these things?” Mrs. McDavid said. “I mean if nobody wanted to do them, we’d be in a big fix. There’s lots of jobs like that.  Being an ER nurse.  Taking care of the elderly people who come to Adult Day Care at Age Well. Working in a nursing home.  Volunteering at a homeless shelter or a battered women’s shelter or a hospice. Those people are saints.”

“Yeah, I just couldn’t do stuff like that,” Arnie said.

“Oh, I think you could,” Mrs. M. said.  “What do you do on Saturdays?

“Saturdays?  I go see my dad up in Paterson.”

“Isn’t that a five-hour drive one way?” I said.

“Yep. I’d move him down here, but he’s around things that are familiar to him up there and that’s really nice for him.”

“What do you do there?”

“I read to him.”

“Read what?” Mrs. M. asked.

“Oh, Field and Stream and chapters from Tom Sawyer, which he really used to love, and I don’t know what else.”

“Does he understand it?” I asked.

“Naw! He just smiles once in a while.  When he does that, it’s like it used to be between us.  Real friendly. But these days he doesn’t even know who I am.”

“But you still go,” I said.

“Of course!  He’s my dad.”

“Arnie,” I said.  “you’re a heart surgeon.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s okay, Arnie,” Mrs. M. said.  “It was a metaphor.  He meant it as a compliment.”

“Well, okay, thanks,” Arnie said.

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One Response to “It’s A Tough Job But Someone’s Gotta Do It”

  1. admin says:

    Great story; made my eyes water just a bit.