Writing Because I Can’t Work At A Chinese RestaurantPosted: January 17, 2014
At the start of my retirement, I have the chance to chase my dream of writing a book. I’m fortunate to have this sort of adventure and blessed with the support I’ll need to make it happen.
Support doesn’t equate with words on the page. Those have to come from me. Some days the words don’t come. By “some days”, what I mean is “a lot of them until recently”. Fortunately, what I mean by “until recently” is that I’m finally getting some chapters drafted that make sense.
But this isn’t about me writing a book. This is about when I wasn’t writing a book and how I regained my focus.
When the book wasn’t rolling at all, I thought about dropping the idea. More than once I voiced those thoughts; I always got a smile and a gentle “not yet” that sent me back to the keyboard. Still, the words didn’t flow. Frustration did. I spent some of my writing time looking at want ads. I was so discouraged that I started making notes to help assemble a résumé.
Kung-Fu Movie Night
And then came Kung-Fu movie night.
One of the things most of you don’t know about me is that I love old Kung-Fu movies. I know that they’re awful. That’s part of their appeal. They’re not for everyone, so some evenings when I’m alone I order Chinese take out and stream a movie with Shaolin in the title.
On a recent Kung-Fu movie night, I stopped by a Chinese restaurant to pick up dinner. There was a help wanted sign on the door.
Have you ever seen a help wanted sign at a Chinese restaurant? Me neither. But there it was. And as I sat there, waiting for my dinner to come out, I thought about the help wanted sign. I wondered what it would be like for me to interview for a job waiting tables in this place.
Restaurant owner: You really want to work, here?
Owner: Well, this is unprecedented.
Me: Really? No one has ever applied for a job here?
Owner: It’s just that you’re not…well, perhaps it’s better that I say it’s just that we’re all…it’s just, you’re not what we’re looking for.
Me: But you really haven’t asked me any interview questions.
Owner: Fine. Tell me about your work experience.
Me: Well, I was a police officer for twenty-eight years and I specialized in hostage negotiation for twenty-two. I also…
Owner: Did you ever negotiate in Mandarin?
Me: Mandarin, like those little canned orange slices?
Owner: Yeah, Sparky, like the orange slices. Your food is ready. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Of course, if you want more food, you should call us.
Write, Or Get A Job Peeling Tiny Oranges
As it turns out, my food was ready at about the same time my imaginary job interview ended.
While I drove home, I thought about the interview. If I couldn’t get through an imaginary job interview with a Chinese restaurant manager whose conversational style was oddly similar to my own, my prospects out in the world were not very good. The book, if I could get it out of my head, would be very good.
And so I started working on the book again the next morning. The dry spell ended. I’m going to give myself a fair shot to make this book thing work. It can’t be harder than learning Mandarin, can it?
The dream lives.
So does my smile.