This classic column was originally published March 20, 2004.
It’s a welcome relief to find yourself performing some job you know how to do. When I come upon an easy one, it keeps me from despair over my ineptness at all the rest.
Shaving every morning might seem to a woman like a nasty little job for men. The fact is, shaving is easy and quick, and a man gets a sense of accomplishment from it. He’s so familiar with the job that he can preview the day’s work while he’s doing it without cutting himself. I know how to shave and I look better after I’ve done it. That’s the most you can ask of a job.
Cutting the grass has not been hard work since the advent of power mowers. The operator directs a machine with whirring blades from a comfortable perch in a saddle behind the engine. The swath a mower cuts as it traverses a lawn becomes satisfyingly wider with each pass, and if there’s anything at all difficult about cutting grass now, it’s filling the gas tank of the mower.
Shoveling snow is overrated as hard work. All the alarm bells about snow shoveling and heart attacks have added prestige to the shoveler, but I’ve never once died moving snow with a shovel. I suspect more people die in their sleep on a snowy night than from shoveling snow the next morning.
Many of the easy jobs are ones I save for the weekend, when I nurse the illusion that I’m accomplishing something without actually doing any work. Shopping, of course, is the No. 1 time-spending ‘job’ in the country. To say, “I’ve got to go to the store,” or “I should do the shopping” makes it sound like work, which it isn’t. Shopping is almost always an excuse for getting out of the house and away from the work you ought to be doing.