Gallery C

Those Boring Jobs
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Trying To Live The Simple Life

By James Donahue

My father used to think I was lazy. That’s because I rebelled at doing tedious, nonproductive tasks like mowing grass, shaving, standing in long lines or filling out complicated government forms.

When given such tasks as mowing grass, I always tried to make a game of it. Because lawn mowers leave designs in the yard, I made the job a work of art. Sometimes I mowed in circles. Sometimes I mowed in crisscross patterns. When I was finished, there was always an artistic pattern in the yard. I liked to climb up on the roof of the house to admire my work when finished.

I only met one other person who disliked mowing grass and didn’t mind saying so. He was a member of the South Haven zoning board who showed me his house, sitting on a very small lot. He had almost no grass to cut and he boasted about it. I always hated town ordinances requiring people to cut their grass.
I never understood people who fertilized and watered their yards. It just made the grass grow faster and thicker, thus requiring more mowing. I always smiled when the grass turned brown and died. We lived for a while in the high desert of Arizona. I liked it there a lot. Grass does not grow in the desert.

I think there are more people like me who dislike mowing grass. I recently read about Jackson Madnick of Wayland, Mass., who crossed 70 different grasses to develop a slow-growing, drought-resistant blend of grass that needs almost no mowing, no water and no fertilizer. I never understood people who fertilized and watered their yards. It just made the grass grow faster and thicker, thus requiring more mowing. I always smiled when the grass turned brown and died.

When I was in college I hated the ritual of washing up, combing my hair and shaving before rushing off to class. I got a buzz haircut and grew a beard, which gave me more time to sleep in. I have since lost most of the hair but still have my beard.
When I was a teenager living on the family farm, my father often gave me mundane tasks. I think he did it to keep me busy and out of trouble. I remember once he asked me to clean out a building that was filled with junk, boards, random piles of nails, screws and nuts, and an assortment of tools. He wanted anything of value sorted and put in order on shelves along one wall. 

I tackled that job by making a game of it. The floor was made of long wide planks. I started at one end of the building and cleaned and sorted everything on the first plank that started at the door. Then I moved across the floor, cleaning plank by plank. It was funny to see my progress as the work progressed. Doing it that way made the job an interesting challenge and I actually enjoyed it.

I used to work the fields the same way I mowed the lawn. Anyone flying over our farm would probably laugh to look down on the patterns left in the fields and on our front lawn.

My life has always involved methodical ways of accomplishing tasks. But two things I never got used to were adjusting to Daylight Savings Time and filing income tax forms. I never found a way to make getting easily through either of these terrible events. I am sure most people agree with me on this.

What really annoys me is that both events are man-made. We don’t need to change our clocks and upset our body’s circadian rhythm twice yearly. In fact, it has been found that the spring time shift triggers a lot of heart attacks in older folks. And it is completely unnecessary. Changing time has not been found to save any energy, which is the reason they forced us to live with it. I think the real reason is that a bunch of rich guys want more time in the summer to play golf after work.

Income tax forms are purposefully so difficult to understand that most people hire their tax returns done by professionals. The forms should be simple and easy for anybody to understand and use. But this has never been the way of government.

I never liked wearing ties either. They always made me feel as if I was being strangled.