As Dylan put it, “I got a head full of ideas/That are drivin’ me insane/It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor.”
I’ve scrubbed floors. It’s back-breaking work. (Caillebotte’s painting is of floor scraping, but one gets the idea.)
I’ve also worked on a farm and will confess it’s very hard work. Waking up early, one finds oneself in the back of a pickup driven down long dirt roads with others who are as half asleep as you are. As dawn breaks, fields appear in all directions. You’re handed a hoe and given brief instructions. At that time of the day, my head was hardly full of ideas, but I can say that my runny nose, itchy eyes, and constant sneezing nearly drove me insane. Years later when I subjected my back to a tic-tac-toe of pinpricks to see what I was allergic to, it ended up being just about everything. Jokingly, the allergy specialist remarked, “I hope you’re not interested in a job in the outdoors.”
Working on a farm is only one of many jobs I’ve had. When in the mood I might just list them like Whitman did but without so much panache.
During high school I was a dishwasher at a restaurant. Considering I could have asked my parents for money, and they would have happily obliged, it appears I was properly imbued with the work ethic. When I wasn’t slaving away rinsing plates or loading them into the huge machine that belched out steam, I had free rein of the soda pop dispenser, which meant I was constantly wired with all that sugar and caffeine running through my veins. I thought it was a great deal, but then again I was being paid $2.20 an hour. Please take my age into consideration.
One evening while waiting for the waitresses to bring me more plates, I was fooling around with the radio dial and chanced upon a silver-smooth voice introducing The Modern Jazz Quartet. Jazz was found in the most unlikely of places.