What was your very first job?
Submitted by Laurel.
From age 13 to 17, I delivered a tiny, uninfluential paper no one's ever heard of to between sixty and sixty-five doorsteps along a few streets south and west of the Forest Glen Metro station in Silver Spring, Md.
My brother Erin helped me unbundle the stacks that a big gunmetal-gray cargo van would drop off at the end of our house's driveway. Then we'd put them into a cart and wheel them around through silent stretches of suburban street, lit by waning pools of lamplight. If it rained or snowed, we'd bag them in small plastic sleeves. My aim and control were ferocious. Most days, I could put a rolled-up, rubber-band-bound newspaper atop a penny on your welcome mat from your lawn's streetside curb.
Oh dude, but that one time I didn't? I was 14 or 15. It was winter. I was three doors away from the warmth of home and the satisfaction of another day done, and I'd heaved a color-slick ad-filled Sunday paper, safe in its sleeve, onto the left front edge of Mr. C——-'s porch. It landed like a dream. But then it kept going on sheer momentum and a sheet of half-melted ice. Then it tapped the thick sheet of fancy ribbed glass window beside the front door and the whole thing blew like a safecracker's wet dream.
I paid to replace the glass. And there must not've been too many hard feelings, because Mr. C——- hired me for a couple of summers afterward to tag along in his van on contracting jobs, lifting sheetrock and pounding nails and bracing ladders. I put on solid muscle, got a lot of paint on my overalls and listened to more than a little Shirley Caesar on a crackling radio.
"Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says," Washington Post, Shankar Vedantam
[…] Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of "Bowling Alone," a book about increasing social isolation in the United States, said the new study supports what he has been saying for years to skeptical audiences in the academy.
"For most of the 20th century, Americans were becoming more connected with family and friends, and there was more giving of blood and money, and all of those trend lines turn sharply in the middle '60s and have gone in the other direction ever since," he said.
Americans go on 60 percent fewer picnics today and families eat dinner together 40 percent less often compared with 1965, he said. They are less likely to meet at clubs or go bowling in groups. Putnam has estimated that every 10-minute increase in commutes makes it 10 percent less likely that people will establish and maintain close social ties.
Television is a big part of the problem, he contends. Whereas 5 percent of U.S. households in 1950 owned television sets, 95 percent did a decade later. […]
[…] Putnam […] said Americans may be well advised to consciously build more relationships. But they also said social institutions and social-policy makers need to pay more attention.
"The current structure of workplace regulations assumes everyone works from 9 to 5, five days a week," Putnam said. "If we gave people much more flexibility in their work life, they would use that time to spend more time with their aging mom or best friend."
So how often do you actually see any of the people in your blogroll? I mean, physically? In real time?