You know what time of year it is.
Well, besides being the “I’m not crying, it’s allergies” season.
It’s that time when people who work indoors gaze out the window at some sun-dappled scene and say, “It’s too nice outside to be cooped up in here.”
At least it is in outdoors-loving Spokane. That “too nice out” refrain has to be our city’s No. 1 springtime cliché.
We hear this every year. And we hear it a lot.
As we approach May Day, this might be an opportune moment to offer a friendly reminder about just why many of us have jobs that require us to work indoors. You know, just to review a few basics.
So, if I may, I’d like to address the inner nature child of Spokane-area office workers, store clerks and warehouse employees. Here are a few answers for when you hear one of your colleagues inevitably ask, “What are we doing spending all day in here when we could be out soaking up some rays?”
Um, well …
You’re spending all day in here because it’s your job.
You have agreed to perform certain duties in exchange for financial compensation. You use that remuneration to help provide food, shelter and Legos for your family.
Chances are, your job does not fall into the “Follow your bliss” category. Maybe it can be satisfying, but the real reason you go to the office every weekday is that you need employment to stave off personal ruin. Is that motivation enough?
You do not get paid to address people as “Dude,” wear sunglasses and cut out early on Fridays. You get paid to accomplish certain specified tasks, which require that you be indoors.
(For the record, some jobs that involve outdoor work are way too physically demanding for the likes of you.)
So when you ask why we are spending all day cooped up inside, it suggests a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of adulthood. You see, it’s not all about seeking self-fulfillment.
There’s a scene in the 30-year-old movie “Parenthood” in which the stressed-out character played by Steve Martin offers a testy response to someone whining about responsibility and obligation. It’s about the line between things we want to do and things we have to do.
He snarls, “My whole life is have-to.”
If your job requires only that you imitate a lizard on a rock soaking up sunshine, by all means, party on. But otherwise, suck it up. Eat your Powdermilk Biscuits and do what needs to be done. Try to remember the basic rule of life most of us learned in grade school. (At least those of us in certain generations.)
Sit down and shut up.
Why are we stuck here indoors on such a beautiful day?
Or perhaps it is a rhetorical question or innocent small talk.
In which case, never mind.
Around the horn
I sort of feel sorry for those who have no interest in baseball.
Oh, it’s not that the sport has such inherent merit that it deserves undying devotion. There are many more important things. And I can see why millions find it boring or worse. To each his own.
It’s just that if you do not follow baseball, you don’t have the opportunity to experience the near-daily roll of the dice that sometimes leaves you momentarily feeling like a winner.
“Hey, what do you know? The Reds won.”
And some days, feeling like a winner – even if just a little bit – is something worth appreciating.
Everything else might have gone wrong for you that day. Or maybe it was a whole lot of ho-hum. But if you see that the White Sox won their game, well, that’s a moment of good feeling.
Oddly enough, that’s something even more special for fans of hapless teams.
If your team wins most of the time, well, good for you. But if, say, you casually follow the team you rooted for as a kid and they now lose a lot, wins can seem precious, worth savoring.
This is true even if you don’t watch the games on TV or track their progress, inning by inning, on your phone.
Now I’m not really talking about reflected glory, that psychologically curious condition afflicting many sports fans. This is more like simple loyalty to your own life’s story. And connecting, even if fleetingly, to the person you were back when you lived and died with the Pirates.
Daddy sang bass, Manny Sanguillen.
Keeping track of a major league baseball team invites you to smile when they win and say to yourself, “Maybe they can do it again tomorrow.”
Really, isn’t that all any of us could even ask of ourselves?
Columnist Paul Turner can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.