What Do You Do?

By Steve Carr

More often than occasionally I’m asked, “And what do you do?” An icebreaker, I suppose, that I should be prepared for.

Naturally, the person is asking what I do for a living. I hem, I haw, and then blurt an explanation that leaves the impression I’m a parolee, adjusting to life on the outside.

It’s not like I haven’t done things, been things. Maybe I should just choose one and go with it for the next museum reception, funeral visitation line, or church bazaar. What we “do” apparently defines us. So, I thought I’d review my vocations. There must be one that will elicit an, “Oh, that’s nice, I’m a racecar driver,” instead of bored and confused stares.

I polished chrome and welcomed members at the old Alpha Health Spa in Idaho Falls. On a quiet day, I stood too long in front of the sunlamp in the dressing room—during my break, of course—hoping to dry out my pimples before the junior prom. Some said my powder-blue leisure suit clashed with my new-look, shiny red face in the dance pictures.

I scrubbed turf from the grooves of golf clubs at the country club. I was one of the best, I must say. I can still see the glint of my braces in a polished nine-iron.

Still a teenager, I landed a job at Norton Fruit Company. This wasn’t my first job. I was wise to the ways the new guys were hazed by the old-timers. The creaky warehouse was packed with dry goods and fresh produce. The order-takers, the elusively exotic upstairs girls with long red fingernails and poofy hair, lowered clipboards filled with orders from their windows, always dancing my clipboard on a string, just out of reach. Eager to shine, I’d run to the ethylene-filled banana room and the swamp-cooled vegetable room, load my truck, a listing beat-down steed, and deliver happy fruit to Earl’s Food Liner, LeBaron’s Café, and Tam’s Frost Top.

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