Friday, November 4, 2011

The thing that makes people interesting...

It is not uncommon for writers such as myself to have a keenly developed interest in their fellow man. To be able to spend hours just looking at people, listening to them, finding out all the interesting little synchronicities and ambiguities that make them them.

It’s all precious information to the writer brain. From the way people carry themselves, to their wardrobe of choice, to their hobbies and the friends they keep.

But I don’t.
In fact, I can’t stand people.
And there’s so freaking many of them.
They’re like huge, overblown ants, crawling all over the world and getting in my way.

So, it came as a big surprise to me, yesterday, when I met a fellow human who did not immediately piss me off. Who did not make me want to take a ten minute detour just to avoid making eye-contact, or feel that disgusting little disturbance of air current that inevitable occurs when people come too close.

That is rare.

For brevity sake, I will refer to this person as John. This is because at the moment of writing I held the belief that names should be changed to protect the innocent and that John is the most common English name around. This, then, should make a disproportionately large group of male readers think I might just be talking about them. Which is sad on exactly two levels. The second level being that the smart reader has already observed that the only information I have given you about this person so far is the fact the his name is NOT John.

Unless, of course I’m exceptionally devious, which I am, and which I’ve just told you about, which in turn means I probably decided to switch between his real and his assumed names a few more times. But, how many?

Anyway, this John (or Lem Carmoni, as he calls himself) has a very interesting job. It’s one I didn’t even know existed. Apparently, he’s the guy who decides on the colors for the insides of shoes.

Bet you didn’t know that. Bet you never realized there was a guy out there who spent the better part of a year deciding on the exact shade of tan to use for the inside of the shoe you are now wearing. Or that weird off-white color that you wouldn’t call egg-shell, not only because it’s not exactly egg-shell, but mostly because you never even noticed the color of the inside of your shoe.

And this is part of the brilliance that is John. He’s at the top of his profession. He’s one of the few people in the world who can pull off, without fail, the exact balance between:

1. The outside color of your shoe (designed obviously by hippies and no good marketing managers without a subtle bone in their bodies.)
2. The odd lighting conditions created by the shape of the nose and the height of the heal.
3. And the mood a specific shoe-shape induces.

This balance is needed to create the perfect blend of unobtrusiveness. Now, normally, I would interject a few lines here about what the world must have been like before John started his valiant work. I would re-iterate a couple of examples of the kind of accidents that occurred when people became distracted by the color of the inside of their shoes as they were putting them on. How it destroyed their lives and the lives of the loved ones they fell on.

But I won’t do this. I don’t have the data at hand. To be honest, I think it would be reaching a bit. I’m sure things weren’t that bad. We survived, we’ll probably live on long after John dies.

But this doesn’t make John (or Stan Wilderburg, as his parents call him) and his job any less interesting.

Anyway, drop a note in the comments to tell me about the most interesting job you’ve heard about, and why any of us should care.

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