I am not fond of my job. I get to meet lots of different people, but not for very long, and never at their best. I've been doing it a long time. You could say I've got tenure. I've been thinking of retiring, but I'm pretty sure things would collapse without me. More importantly, I've seen inside those retirement homes. No thank you.
I am like your mother, in a way. A mother - a good one anyway - is Home personified. A base of operations. You - if you are fortunate - return to her welcoming bosom to recalibrate when the world is too large, or too scary, or too confusing. One hopes you do this less as you get older, but you do still do it. When she passes out of your life, one way or another, you find a replacement. (It's Queen, for me, personally.)
You can think of me as the Ultimate Bosom. I don't mean an especially nice set of mammary glands (what is your obsession with those, anyway?) I mean Ultimate as in "final". At the end of things, I will enfold you in my cold comfort; the last thing you will ever experience. In this life, at any rate.
You may think of me as an empty robe with an hourglass and an agricultural implement. I reap what I never sowed. I see everyone, and I see most of them at their worst. I know you better than your mother. I know you better than your friends, better than your lovers.
After a millenia or two, it can get a mite depressing. So I've been doing what so many do these days: I've learned to hustle.
I tried my hand at ambulance driving for a while, but it wasn't for me. I don't think my skillset was suited to the role, and frankly, it was a bit of a busman's holiday.
With a fresh license under my belt, I bought an ice cream van. I've had a go at some other trades - barman, chef, retail, Avon lady, Hermes delivery person (chucking the parcels into random places was quite fun, I won't lie) but this one is my favourite job so far.
Get this: people are pleased to see me. I'm not going to say that's a first, but it's certainly different. I even like the grating little tune. I like putting my own words to it and humming it as I trundle around bringing joy, and death, and frozen dairy products to the masses. The children are the best part. The looks on their little faces when they see me! I give them their screwball or their knickerbocker glory and I grin right back. It's wonderful.
Ice cream manning is seasonal though - summer leaves, the days turn cold and gloomy and the nights get long. Nobody eats ice cream anymore. It's no wonder people get depressed in winter. This keeps me busy, of course, but I still need something for me. It's called self-care. I've been reading articles about it.
In keeping with the driving theme, I tried being an Uber driver. This is my second favourite. I love it because I get to meet lots of people, and they actually walk away afterwards. Smiling! I also like it because it's normal for a driver to fade into the background and not be noticed. It's part of the job spec. The work slots very easily around my - excuse the expression - life.
It has fitted so seamlessly around my primary job that I now drive full-time. It is so much more convenient than horses. Instead of a scythe, I have an app. You are chauffered away from this life in economy and style. Sit back, relax. I have seat warmers.
Should you be fortunate enough to pass away in summertime, I will be there to greet you in my giant pink Mr Whippy van. The curved blade was always a bit off-putting for people. Understandable really. But greet them holding out a (free) 99 cone? It changes the whole game.
I used to get a lot of shock, followed by denial. No, not me, I'm not ready! I'm too young! There's been a mistake! I need to do this, or say that, or tell so and so I love... People never say this kind of thing with a chocolate dipped waffle cone in their hand, I guarantee it.
If they put up any resistance (pointless by the way) I just give them free rein with the bottle of fake strawberry coulis. (It looks a bit like blood, which tickles me. Or it would if I had any nerves.) Their protests melt away, their eyes perk up and whatever they were going to say comes out as, "Can I have a chocolate flake?" I say, "You can have two old son," and they depart this life beaming, leaving all pain and distress behind, usually with a blob of sauce on their shirt.
It's a good life.
Hope you enjoyed this sojourn into silliness and reflection on the importance of a work-death balance.
A Challenge to the Death!
Here's my challenge to you: write about Death as a character. What's s/he like, how does he cope with the stresses of the job, what's his favourite bit of it?
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