Every so often you read something that changes your life for an hour or a day or a year. For me, my game changer was "Down and Out in London and Paris" by George Orwell. Autobiographical, so the story goes, it tells of a period in Orwell's life when he became destitute and started to work in kitchens around Paris.
It was a really great book for me. In this era of sitting on your ass tapping away at a computer screen for ten hours a day for your wage, Orwell recounts of working and living on the bread line. Literally in the shittiest jobs for the worst pay. But even here he found pride and toughness in his fellow PLONGEURS around him:
"The PLONGEURS, again, have a different outlook. Theirs is a job which offers no prospects, is intensely exhausting, and at the same time has not a trace of skill or interest; the sort of job that would always be done by women if women were strong enough. All that is required of them is to be constantly on the run, and to put up with long hours and a stuffy atmosphere. They have no way of escaping from this life, for they cannot save a penny from their wages, and working from sixty to a hundred hours a week leaves them no time to train for anything else. The best they can hope for is to find a slightly softer job as night-watchman or lavatory attendant.
And yet the PLONGEURS, low as they are, also have a kind of pride. It is the pride of the drudge — the man who is equal to no matter what quantity of work. At that level, the mere power to go on working like an ox is about the only virtue attainable. DEBROUILLARD is what every PLONGEUR wants to be called. A DEBROUILLARD is a man who, even when he is told to do the impossible, will SE DEBROUILLER— get it done somehow. One of the kitchen PLONGEURS at the Hotel X, a German, was well known as a DEBROUILLARD. One night an English lord came to the hotel, and the waiters were in despair, for the lord had asked for peaches, and there were none in stock; it was late at night, and the shops would be shut. ‘Leave it to me,’ said the German. He went out, and in ten minutes he was back with four peaches. He had gone into a neighbouring restaurant and stolen them. That is what is meant by a DEBROUILLARD. The English lord paid for the peaches at twenty francs each."
I love this.
This is what my life means. I want to be ready for any eventuality. I want to be that guy that can be relied upon to undertake a task and do it fully. This is my reason for training, to be a Debrouillard.
Having read the book, I no longer look at my job as a drudge and I no longer look for excuses, I have a very easy life in comparison to many!
Its on the wall in Charlie-Gym at eye-level, its the last thing I see before I squat heavy.
Se debrouiller, Charlie.