I was fired from the only retail job I ever had. The important thing to remember here is that I wasn’t fired because I was a bad worker, or undependable. It wasn’t because I was a crummy person, incompetent, tardy, or lazy.
It was because—and I will never forget this—I didn’t iron my shirt.
The bossman came into work and looked at me with disgust. “God,” he said. “Don’t you ever iron your shirt?”
At the exact moment he said this, I was eating a ham and swiss on rye—heavy on the mustard. And it’s impossible to defend yourself intelligently with a mouthful of ham and swiss on rye with mustard.
He fired me. I packed my things and I was gone in fifteen minutes.
So yeah, I’m messy. I don’t mean to be, but I am.
My truck, for instance, is a mess. A few days ago, I found a small oak tree sprout growing in a pile of decomposing trash in my floorboards. I couldn’t bring myself to uproot
the thing because I love greenery.
My office is a mess, too. I have fifty thousand books. Tall stacks sit on every flat surface so I can always see them, and one day when I am gone, God-willing, someone will think I actually read them all.
I don’t know how I became so messy. I didn’t take a special course to learn how. It’s just a gift.
My mother is tidy. My father polished his lawnmower engines for kicks. My sister keeps a house so clean you could eat supper off her toilet seat. My wife irons our dog-bed covers.
Me? I have a tree growing in my truck.
Yesterday, I was in the post office. I stood in a long line. The room was full of folks with violent winter colds.
After every cough, I covered my nose and…