The photo is from 1978. My son, his truck. Behind him, my truck.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do Something

Friday, June 14, 1985

In a multimillion dollar dream house in Los Altos Hills I'm cutting holes in the ceiling, running wires, installing lights.  Don the owner is in and out, carrying golf clubs or a tennis racket.  He's about 25.  Pleasant-sounding women - of many voices - leave come-hither messages on his answering machine.  Held by a magnet to his refrigerator is a trade confirmation for 300,000 shares of Puget Sound Power and Light.  Big bucks.

Isabella the decorator drops by to check on my progress.  I ask her, "What does Don do?"

Isabella laughs, shrugs.  “Strange, isn’t he?  Somebody else asked me exactly the same thing.  ‘What does that man do?’”

When you talk to Don you understand in an instant that he's cheerful and smart.  He lives alone with five bedrooms and three baths.  Everything on his walls or in his shelves is new.  The man has no history.

So after discussing the placement of a light switch, I ask him: "Don, what do you do?"

"What do you mean?"

"Like, what kind of work do you do?"

"I don't work."  His tone is amiable but final.  He moves on.

I wasn't asking if he had employment.  I was asking what defines him.  Don is always in motion, always in contact with somebody or other.  To what point?

I will work for Don off and on for 20 years.  He will give no sign of involvement in charities or political causes.  He will show no interest in the arts.  No visible hobbies.  No projects like restoring an old car or growing a garden.  No obsession with women, though they seem endlessly available.  Nor men.  He will always appear good-humored and busy.  And single.  I will never find out what he does.

Everybody has to "do" something.  Don't they?

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