Pencil Pusher

“You look like a pencil pusher,” said the woman in line behind me at the coffee shop.

“Excuse me?” I asked in return, more than a little confused.

“A pencil pusher.  You know, someone who pushes pencils and shuffles paper around their desk all day.  I’m also guessing that it’s for a government agency of some sort.”

“If that’s the definition of a pencil pusher, than a pencil pusher I am,” I told her.

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” she wanted to know.

“That’s a loaded question,” I answered, which was the truth.  Even government officials can tell the truth from time to time.

Is it a good thing to hang on to a job you’re not particularly fond of only because it provides a higher than average standard of living for your family?  Or would it be better to run away and try what you’ve always longed to try, even though you know that your chances of succeeding in the field are one in a million and that the job pays next to nothing?

It could make you happy, though.  It could be unbelievably fulfilling as well.  Then again, it could make you miserable – putting your family’s financial future at risk, or abandoning them completely in order to chase your dreams, the way my father abandoned his family.

I’ve often wondered through the years if my dad felt any guilt for the wreckage he left behind, or if he reached his goals and felt that justified what he did.  I’ve also wondered if what he did shaped me into the dependable, tow the line person that I am today.  I didn’t dare say any of this to the lady behind me, so I left her with this instead:

“It’s a living, I guess.”

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