I’ve never, ever, ever thought that my sister and I looked alike. I’m male, she’s not, for starters. I’m four years older, and have always looked it, and then some. I’m tall, she’s short. I’m angular, she’s curvy. I have the mutant green eyes, hers are blue. My hair is unkempt and brown, hers is thick and, uh, brown, but a nicer brown than mine. So imagine our surprise when we looked at a picture that our uncle took at Amelia Island last weekend. As Katelin noted, if I plucked my eyebrows and wore a wig, we’d look like twins. You be the judge. I’m the one with hair on my chest.
The other thing that I did while on vacation was eat as though I wasn’t going to ever eat again, so I came home weighing seven pounds more than when I left. Three days later, though, I’m back down to 197 pounds, due to dietary discipline and one of the more satisfying elements of my job: the fact that it can, when I want it to, include a reasonable amount of physical labor. My groundskeepers and maintenance crew are all students, but on days when I feel the need to work (in the classical sense of the word, not in the more typical modern sense of pushing bytes and making phone calls), I have the option of going outside and getting my hands dirty with them, working up a sweat and burning unwanted office or vacation calories. It also serves as a community building tool par excellence: my team feels most like a team when we undertake some strenuous task together, get it done, then clap our hands, hydrate and admire our handiwork. During the school year, I work for a couple of hours most Saturday mornings, which is the time when there’s a critical mass of students here to do all the building care and maintenance tasks of the week. I bring in bagels, and consider that to be one of my favorite times of the weekly job cycle, a time to mentor and monitor the young people placed under my business stewardship. We have great conversations and make great connections as we work together, in ways we’d never do via e-mail, IM, phone calls or passing in the hall between meetings. I consider myself lucky in that regard . . . there’s a whole different level of physical and psychological satisfaction involved in partaking in and supervising manual labor than there is in just being a paper pusher. I think a lot of the workplace ennui that the modern information worker experiences has to do with the fact that there are no hard physical tasks to be accomplished. It just isn’t the same when you finish a report or an article, sitting under a flickering fluorescent light at a computer. I certainly wouldn’t want to spend all my time doing just manual labor, but I like having a balance between brain work and braun work, if for no other reason than to burn off unwanted vacation pounds.