Franz Kafka "toiled diligently at a series of office jobs that didn't allow him enough time to write."
That's my excuse. Except for the toiling diligently part. I have a challenging job, with shit flying in from all over the world, and it's fun in its way, and certainly can be talked up to sound more important than it is. But diligent I am not. In the fifteen years since they allowed the internet into the office, some of us have honed some pretty wicked looking-busy skills. Reading and writing blogs, faffing about on Facebook, scouring and excoriating political commentary, crawling about doing random “research”, I’m paid to do all that shit. Management doesn’t know I’m paid to do that, but that’s the effect.
Or they’re too busy covering themselves doing the same thing to notice. Or, better yet, don’t really care.
And at home? I used to have kids. Then they turned eighteen and I don’t know what happened to them but now I actually have time to repair lawnmowers and rearrange furniture and figure out how to program the digital TV. I don’t have time to write yet but, you know, all in due course.
I have read no Kafka. I have heard of him all my life. Educated people the world round drop his name among the many others that “we” all read in high school and college, the great writers who transformed the world, who transformed our private worlds. Yet somehow I missed all that. How could a man who loves to read miss all that?
By barely making it through high school intact, detaching the brain for a few years, and then going back to school simply to get a degree that could lead to a job, that’s how. It’s a shame but it’s well understood that engineering students really don’t have time for that liberal arts crap. General ed requirements? Pfft. I’ll give it one hour a week. And so. Kafka? Who? Oh yeah, I heard a him. Developed one of the early heterodyne receivers, right?
Passing literature by, I always felt like the ROTC cadet who looks wistfully at the hippie-types lounging in the grass, wondering deep inside if he’s really on the right path here.
And that’s my Kafka story. While writing it, some guy from marketing IM’d me to talk tech about some damn customer’s project or other and I put him off for later. Made it sound like I was doing something important. Well, if you ask me, I was.