The luxury of a Saturday morning sleep-in. Early morning dog walk, first. Unavoidable. Under a clear sky: a long-awaited pleasure in this cold and rainy spring. Some coffee. Some revision. A powerful beckon from the couch. A pleasant drift between sleep and wakefulness. The church bell strikes nine – twice, in case you miss the first count. The upstairs neighbor turns on her radio for the morning programs (her all-time favorite song will come later).
The movie showed a record gross in the first weekend, they say. The book went through its fifth printing in the first three months, and movie rights sold in the seven-figure bracket. The new boss was so good, they raised his monthly salary to a comfortable six-figure amount.
You are what you earn. At least, that’s the message blaring from all directions. The corollary: if you’re poor, you’re worthless. And lazy. Stands to reason.
On my neighbor’s terrace last night, we enjoyed the balmy weather. Ate, drank, talked about staying alive as musicians or as writers when success passes you by. The big recording contract. The full endorsement of an agent and a publishing house. The youthful dream of making a living from what you love.
I talked about some of the boys I’d seen in the workshop on Thursday. The workshop dealt with presentation. First hour: what others see and hear when you knock on a door, and enter a room. Sit at a table and address yourself to the others sitting around it. All the non-verbal cues – gaze, gait, mannerisms, pitch of the voice. Second hour: job interview simulations. I took notes on all eight participants. All of them provided feed-back to the others.
The boy most present in my mind this morning: a sixteen-year old from Bangladesh – with adequate conversational English and the first elements of French. In-country since February. Reason for leaving Bangladesh: family problems, he said. Reason for choosing France over England? A brief hesitation, a mild reply with eyes in mine: same family problems, he said. Code: he’d rather struggle through learning a new language and culture than join the ranks of the indentured ones. Why does he wish to train as a plumber, I ask. Same quiet voice and attitude: he doesn’t enjoy cooking, he doesn’t have the schooling or qualifications required to train as an electrician. He’ll keep on working on his French, and become a plumber.
He did the first part of his presentation in flawless French. When he ran out of French words he said: “with your permission”, and switched to English.
I’m thinking of him and others like him, this morning. You are what you earn? No. You are who you become, with the income and contacts, or without.