Learning to Work

By Marc Dion

September 5, 2016 3 min read

I live in the city where I work, and it's a tight little city, and on my way to work, I see the kids going to school, to grade school.

The really young ones, the ones just starting the trip, are brought to school by dad or mom. Some of 'em don't even walk that steadily, they've still got a little of that wide-legged toddler walk.

And I think that, what you really start learning, on that first day in school, is how to work, how to hide yourself, how to do what someone else wants you to do.

Until then, you're a baby. You sleep when and where you want, eat when you want, go to the bathroom when you want. You can sit and look out the window for two hours in the afternoon and the only thing that happens is your mother says, "Are you sad?" and gives you a cupcake.

Is there a more beautiful sound than a mother's voice asking "Are you sad?"

School is like a job with no paycheck. You have to show up on time. You can't leave until it's time to leave. You get regular, too-short breaks. There's a teacher/boss who tells you what to do, and your fellow workers are strangers your first day on the job. You look out the window for five minutes and teacher/boss says, "Stop daydreaming," or "pay attention."

You have to wear "appropriate" clothes. You can't take your shoes off because your feet are hot.

You can get in real trouble, too, not like that trouble you get in with mom, where she yells at you and then both of you feel bad. In school, getting in trouble means paper work, a demerit, a note to your folks. Decades later, when you first encounter the employee handbook, you'll already know what "written up" means.

And look, it's not like I hate education. I have a Master's Degree. And I'm not unfamiliar with discipline, either. I went to school with nuns — real, old-fashioned, black habit, white veil nuns. Getting in trouble with a nun was like getting hit by lightning.

I didn't dislike the nuns, either. They hit me a time or two, but I'm not one of these weepy Catholic school veterans. Sister Mary Pius hit you 40 years ago? What did she hit you with, a brick? Quit cryin' and grow up!

But I watch the kids, the little ones, going in that first day and I think, "Kid, this is your first day wearing the saddle."

Then I step down on the gas pedal because I can't be late for work.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "King of the World on $14 an Hour," is a collection of his best 2015 columns. It is available on Nook and Kindle.

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