First of May

Labour Day is a good day to start a new job. And that’s today, in many parts of the world. But not in Canada: here the First of May is just another working day.

But not quite. Whereas Labour Day in Canada marks the end of the summer and beginning of the school year, the First of May marks the beginning of the summer term, at least at University.

With the school year officially over yesterday, the month of May started with a New Year flavour to it. The temperature stayed between 5 and 15 degrees above zero, cloudy weather, definitely cooler than last New Year’s day. Campus was absolutely deserted: every one either went home, or are working hard finishing their final papers or studying for exams.

And my new job was in full steam. A little task here, another there, and before I realized the day was over and I hadn’t found the time to have a sip of water, or to visit the bathroom. It didn’t feel like work, because it was all so new and exciting. But once evening came I realized how tired I was. Good tired.

Changing jobs every so often is good for the soul, especially when the jobs are different in nature. Academic work is all very interesting, but it lacks that sense of immediate causality. My summer job is to provide accommodation. It may seem a lot of busy work for something so simple. But at the end of the day I can say “this many people have a bed to sleep tonight, because of me”. Immediate causality: I see the cause, the effect, feels good, life goes on. That’s more than I can say of academic work most days.

But it is good to be able to alternate between both, in the same way that it is good to be able to alternate between feet to walk. Walking when you’re missing a leg involves tremendous effort, and I admire people who can do it. But to be able to walk with both is a privilege. A real privilege.

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