Scenes from a complicated life: A crazy Drywall fantasy

by Brian Clarey

Had a chance to sit down with Dr. Lawyer a few weeks ago in one of our semi-regular powwows, where we kick back and really get a good look, acknowledge the last decade of our lives and honestly assess the paths we’ve chosen.

I get the better end of the deal: Dr. Lawyer is a psychiatrist and also a lawyer; people pay pretty well for his advice that I get for free because once, a long time ago, he threw up on my phone.

Like all of us, he’s much more than the sum of his professions: a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a friend. And all of these roles sometimes weigh perceptibly on my pal’s head. I can see it in his eyes, in the creases in his earlobes, his posture.

And there’s not much I can give this guy in the way of counsel. I’m a journalist and editor, after all, and I can help him if he wants to know the name of Cleveland’s biggest newspaper or if he’s using too many prepositional phrases, but to ease someone’s suffering is something I haven’t done with any competency since I left bartending so many years ago. These days, I usually end up making people feel worse. The best I could do for Dr. Lawyer this last time was to pull out a joke that I’ve made… oh… maybe a thousand times before.

“You probably should have gone to refrigeration school,” I said.

He considered this carefully, as he considers just about everything.

“No,” he said. “That could mean I’d have to own my own business. What I’d like, I think, is a job loading and unloading Drywall for some guy.”

This is funny, because the most physical job Dr. Lawyer ever held was the summer he worked as a short-order cook in the cafeteria of the hospital where he now does rounds. But I didn’t laugh, and neither did he. We both kind of just… fantasized about it for a moment.

Loading Drywall. And then unloading it. All day, with a nice break for a homemade lunch and, very likely, a good bit of truck time in between, where we’d just ride around with the Drywall on the way to the site, listening to the radio and drinking from giant mugs of gas-station soda.

Drywall is pretty heavy, of course, an obviously aggravating circumstance. But I’m pretty sure you get to use a hand-truck or some such device. In fact, I once saw a lone laborer move a copy machine as big as a fat man’s coffin from a second-floor office down to his van. He had a mechanized hand-truck that actually climbed stairs all by itself. Surely there have been similar innovations in the Drywall game.

We’d load and unload in a perfect cycle all year long, with two solid weeks of vacation, benefits and, I don’t know, maybe a discount on Drywall or something. And every day about 45 minutes before quitting time, we’d load up the truck and head for home, our wives and children, and we wouldn’t think about Drywall again until the alarm sounded the next morning.


And this working for “some guy” element… that’s a fine wrinkle. It implies that we are not in management, precluding us from serious decision-making as it pertained to Drywall. Presumably, the guy would know something about the business, so there would be plenty of Drywall to haul. And he’d probably be the mustachioed, cigar chomping sort, brusque yet lovable with a taste for doughnuts and frozen pot-pies.

“Your job is to load the fuckin’ Drywall,” he’d say to us. “And then unload it. Understand, professor?”

“Professor”… what a cutup.

But here our little fantasy comes to an end. There are way too many obstacles between us and our dream jobs: student-loan debt and a philanthropic bent in his case, a bad back in mine. We have mortgages based on our current earnings — no way could we sell our houses in this real-estate market — and over the years we both have become accustomed to equating our jobs with our identities to some degree, and I’m not sure if our egos could take it.

Also, our prospects for this type of work are not good. Although we are both familiar with Drywall and are fairly certain we could identify it from a group of other home-building materials, we have very little experience in the industry and surely there would be others better qualified than we to land such great jobs. And frankly, we wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Loading Drywall. And then unloading it. Such a crazy dream… what were we thinking?

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