Friday, July 11, 2008

The Family Supercomputer is still at the shop. I realized this yesterday when I sat down to manage my home business and had nothing to work with. The whole "you should back up your hard drive" thing suddenly took on a new significance as I realized six or seven years of business records, templates, documents, phone numbers and addresses were sitting on a hard drive in a broke-down computer in a plastic sack on the floor of some back room in a mall next to a number of similar sacks and a guy hunched over a table eating a burrito.

So I took an old piece of stationary and cut and paste the weekly receipts and invoices onto it, made a few photocopies, and actually phoned in the orders. They were nonplussed to hear my friendly voice, so old school. I got out of there quick and went to work. Real work, too, with a hammer in the heat, ending with a day at the dump. In the shower that evening, someone else's house just melted off me and went down the drain in a slow, muddy torpor. Sometimes I think that dirt is the only thing keeping me from getting skin cancer. Sometimes I think that dirt is going to clog up that drain something fierce and keep me working through the weekend. And sometimes it does.

Last night at the dinner table, Mrs. Ditchman claimed she was exhausted from the day. This is always the last battle for me. I'm not fighting her, rather, I'm fighting myself. It's that old game of who's-worked-harder and who's-more-tired. It's the level boss. You've been fighting all day and then the big, bad one comes out to defeat you once and for all. In the video games, when you get to the end of the level, you reach for your gun and you're usually as spry and full of energy as when you began the level. In real life, you get to the end of the day, reach for your gun, and strain your back.

So you try not to start, and it can be a real battle. For a bonus total you try and sympathize, but it never comes off earnest enough to land a big score. If you lean back and sit silently you can usually make it through the round, but you end it on your face, which is thoroughly undignified. The only way to win is to realize everyone's got their own haul, and it can be hard on all of us from time to time, but this family's in it together. We're in it to win it. If everyone has an easy day, you celebrate. If one person has a bad day, you carry them. If everyone has a bad day, well, you carry them.

I'm not saying it's easy. I'm saying it's the only way to win.