Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Not-So-Odd Job

I have been distracted somewhat from my writing here for the blog, and have had most of my normal routines vigorously tossed out the window, by my having taken on this new job that I mentioned here the other day.

I was interested in this job somewhat but never quite pursued it -- I was comfortable in my already complicated life, after all .... yet I ended up with the work, all the same.

A pattern exists in my life which is quite clear, now -- that I tend to step up to help resolve a less-than-desirable situation, if that less-than-desirable situation happens to be afflicting a co-op. This first manifested in me becoming manager of the struggling Turtle Creek Food Co-op, in Beloit, in the late 1980s. The co-op's struggle continued, while I earned almost nothing for my labors; yet the co-op did last another four years. I was by no means ideal for the job except in the sense that I was somewhat willing to taken a vow of poverty in support of what seemed a community Good, having already quite decisively taken and frequently renewed a vow of poverty in order to pursue the creative life, throughout the earlier decade.

Having stepped up to take on that task was perhaps a mistake. The task was there to do, though. Likely I failed at it it to no greater degree than I excelled at it.

In the second instance, however, I am fairly sure my failure was complete -- for at a point of leadership crisis at the Stevens Point Food Co-op I become involved in trying to reshape that leadership, and ended up in a position that was wrong for me. I had sworn I would never end up a part of a day-to-day cooperative management team. I felt some interest in managing store matters in a logical manner, but also felt an equal disinterest in holding endless meetings ... so I bailed out of the situation pretty promptly, but not prettily.

I suppose I am exactly the kind of dust that coooperative vacuum-claners suck up: for in recent weeks it again has been a co-op that has done just this, with regards to the dust that I am. The differences from earlier situations are several. In this case, I seem to have actually resolved an operational problem, simply by stepping in. (You might think of a dishwasher stepping into a restaurant and suddenly ending a half-year cooking dilemma: it is akin to that.) Despite my early expectations, moreover, this new job has turned into one requiring a fair degree of physical labor.

This has a bit of an odd feel for me, since physical labor has always seemed something to be volunteered, rather than to be paid for. I have certainly taken my share of odd jobs that involved simple physical work -- yet I did always think of those jobs as "odd." The opposite of the odd job is apparently the regular job, which this one seems to be.

(As you may be thinking, it does occur to me that my life might have been easier had I viewed matters otherwise than this, sooner.)

For a third difference, this is a co-op on the producing end of the spectrum, not the consumer end. Many of the myriad forces that pull together and tear apart consumer co-ops seem to go unfelt in producer co-ops.

Cheers ...

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