Last night I as I rode the A Train home, a merchant boarded the train, peddling incense and exotic oils contained in a Ziplock bag. After shouting flavors and scents, he closed his pitch with the old adage, “It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.”
I do not disagree that this must be a tough job. We are in (barely out of?) a recession. People have tightened their belts, especially on luxury items such as incense and exotic oils. I imagine getting that 11:30 PM impulse purchaser is incredibly difficult. But I don’t know that someone has to do it. Like, if no one did that job, we’d all still be ok.
But there are jobs in this world that someone indeed must do. On Sunday night, I met the runner up of the 200_* Rock/Paper/Scissors World Championship**. Let’s call him Adam. I am always delighted to find someone who has dedicated his life to something that I have never even thought about as a thing. Multiply said delight times twenty if I’m drinking when we meet. It all began when Adam approached my group and offered to play any of us in Rock/Paper/Scissors for a dollar. Word to the wise: if someone ever comes up to you in a bar, claiming to be an expert in something that he or she will show you for a dollar, you are in for a treat.
I refused the initial challenge, but took the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the world of competitive Rock/Paper/Scissors-ing. I learned the serpent’s kiss of his 2006 taste of greatness: he continues to return year after year, never again reaching those heights. Sadly, this year the official chairman of the Rock/Paper/Scissors World Championship passed away. Adam plans to step fill those shoes. Unfortunately, due to his own strong R/P/S ethic, he refuses to simultaneously chair and compete. So unless he can raise the money from an independent sponsor, he will have to sit out this year, once again brushing up against glory unable to lean into its tantalizing embrace.
I am not judging Adam. This world is hard and if you find something you love, you should pursue it to the limits of time and space. I like to play make believe with my friends, sometimes to music. It is my passion and I still dream of doing it professionally. When asked what makes me pursue such an ambition, I long for as true a response as my new-found friend, who simply taps on his beer and winks and sort of makes a clicking noise with his mouth.
For the record, we did play Rock/Paper/Scissors that night, free of charge. He beat me two out of three***.
* I fact checked him on the internet, so this is a real thing, but he doesn’t need the whole world to know this story.
** Narrowly beaten by Australia right at the end.
***For the double record, that may be his MO to get girls. I cannot attest to that success rate.