The Point and Walk – Or How to Escape Doing Manual Labor
As I rode the escalator up to the third floor, because let’s be honest, I wasn’t going to take the stairs, I saw a very intimidating man scowling at me. His muscles appeared to be trembling – begging to be set free from his Richard Simmons-like onesie. I smiled wild and waved as innocently as a catholic school girl skipping field hockey practice to sneak behind the bleachers with Seth from Advanced Trig Four. I knew what I was about to get myself into. I just hoped I brought the right protection. I tried to convey all of that to Rex in one tiny wave. I think he got the picture. He grabbed my hand and shook it with such intensity. I thought back to the day my golf coach taught me shake hands. He said, “Matt, you stick your hand out like this, look them in the eye, grasp the hand firmly, and right before you pull away, you give their palm a little tickle with your index finger.” I didn’t dare try that with Rex. I think his recoil from my tickle could have pulled my arm out of socket.
As I rubbed my now bruised hand, he directed me to the men’s locker room and told me to get changed. I didn’t bring any clothes with me. I thought this was a meet and greet – a brunch where we talked about my goals and past failures. I imagined sipping orange juice and eating rye toast with no butter. I wasn’t prepared for a workout.
I stepped out of the locker room wearing the same outfit that I went in with. Rex dropped his head and asked me if I left my panties at home. I thought that was rather ironic and rude of Rex, considering what he was wearing. But, there I stood in my husky Old Navy jeans and XL American Eagle sweatshirt – the biggest challenge that Rex had ever seen. After eight minutes of the worst pain of my life I told him I had to use the restroom. I secretly rode the escalator back down to the first floor and never looked back.
Throughout my young and creative early years, I had come up with many ways of getting out of manual labor. The Bathroom Escape was just one of my many ways of avoidance. Anything resembling work or possible sweating experiences, I wanted nothing to do with. I once ate a whole basket of hot wings and broke a sweat – swore off chicken wings for a whole year. I went back the next weekend. So it goes.
Because of that terrible experience with Rex and the repetitive, sweaty hot wings, I have created a list of foolproof ways to get out of anything bordering on work.
1. Obtain a Cute Saying
My dad and I were close, the only men in the family. We had to look out for each other. When I grew old enough to start accumulating responsibilities, I also grew old enough to start getting out of them. And the first fool proof way actually fell right into my lap. My dad created a cute saying around the house anytime I got in trouble: “He’s just a little boy…” When I climbed to the top of the refrigerator to retrieve the forbidden toys that my mother hid up there, “he’s just a little boy…” When I pinched my sister because she turned off Saved by the Bell, “he’s just a little boy…” When I choked on an ice cube at the zoo and almost died, “he’s just a little boy…”
The saying eventually transferred into the work-excuse zone. I didn’t want to clean my room because I was a little boy. That’s how it was supposed to work. I was cute. I had a saying. I had a cute saying.
Then I got fat.
2.The Post-Dinner Poops
When I was younger still, on the verge of my second chin, I had daily chores that I had to complete. On top of unloading the dishwasher and feeding the dog, I had to chip in with clearing dishes and giving them a pre-wash rinse. It was a rough childhood.
In order to do less work, I politely excused myself from the table when the meal was nearing its end. I knew that my dad was on his last helping of mashed potatoes, and that meant that the plates were about to make their way into the kitchen for rinsing. And they weren’t walking themselves into that sink – I had to carry them. Me. A capable eight-year-old. So, I stood up, placed my napkin on the table and said, “I’ll be right back.” After 10 minutes, I returned to the dining room with a sly grin on my face. To my astonishment, the table was clear. “Oh man, you guys already cleared the table?” Worked for about two weeks. My Mother got suspicious and waited 35 minutes on one fateful Tuesday night.
3.The Point and Walk
In my high school drama department I was kind of a big deal. I played Cogsworth and the Cowardly Lion back to back. It was hard to switch my emotions so quickly. I only had a year to get the clock out of my brain before I had to strap on the lion suit. People said they hadn’t seen such honesty displayed in a high school auditorium since the 1994 production of Annie. Evidently the little red head was brilliant. I wasn’t around yet. I could have taken that role to the next level.
But my talent went so much deeper than some silly surface acting. I had perfected what I like to call the “point and walk.” It’s a very simple and effective method of doing absolutely nothing while appearing to be doing something of extreme importance. It looks a little something like this.
Man A is walking across the stage, pointing to something just out of view on the opposite side of the set. Just as Man A approaches the other end of the stage, he turns around and points in the opposite direction once again, appearing to have forgotten something of extreme importance. Director A sees Man A walking with such determination that Director A never questions Man A’s motives. Man A continues this process until everyone else in the cast has properly moved every set piece. Man A then exhaustingly takes a seat and wipes his sweat-free brow. Take that Annie.
Now I’m not suggesting that just anyone try these methods. There are other options to think of when deciding one’s best way of getting out of work: A new allergy to dust mites or pollen; A tennis injury (make sure you do enough research on the sport to speak convincingly); Irritable bowl syndrome – people will leave you alone for hours. But these all have negative sides too, especially the last one.
I have gotten myself out of many situations in the past, and to this day people still talk of my no-work-genius in theatre class. When Director A started catching on and following me around, I just stopped going to those work calls. That earned me a private call on the loudspeaker in front of my entire biology class. Was I embarrassed? Sure, but then again, I did get out of Biology. You tell me who the winner is.