on becoming an architect

I just had dinner with Linette’s cousin from San Francisco. He’s probably about 20 years older than she is. He’s an interesting guy. He’s currently approaching retirement as an architect, and he’s working on a masters degree in Theology in his spare time. When Linette was a kid, he was a bartender. He told an interesting story tonight about why he made the career change.

Back when he was a bartender, he had a regular customer. The guy would always come in on Friday afternoons for a drink after work. He’d sit in the same seat, and have the same drink. He didn’t mention it, but I suppose they made the kind of small talk that people make with bartenders. Anyway, one afternoon, the man came in and told Nelson (that’s Linette’s cousin’s name) that he’d retired that day from his job as an architect. And, he said, he had a piece of advice for Nelson. “Life is better on this side of the bar,” he said. And, with that, he handed Nelson his T-square, and his slide rule, and suggested that he become an architect. And, Nelson did just that.

I don’t know if he’ll do it or not, but I’m encouraging him to find a worthy bartender and do the same thing for them. If I hear that he’s done it, I’ll interview him for the site.

Oh, and after the beauty of the story wore off a bit, I asked him if he ever confirmed that the man was in fact really an architect. When he said that he hadn’t, I suggested that it was possible that the fellow had a trunk full of props that he carried around town, handing out to bartenders, either just to see what would happen, or in hopes of scoring a free drink or two. He laughed for a few seconds, until it kind of hit him that he might have just spent the last 25 years of his life in pursuit of a career assigned to him by a passing grifter. (I’m picturing the fellow doling out props like the Wizard of Oz at the end of the film, when he gives each of Dorothy’s companions each their appropriate reward.) It was one of those things I wish I could have called back the moment it left my mouth.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted August 26, 2008 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I bet it was Jesus.

  2. mark
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    That would be funny if he’d handed Nelson a crucifix and he just thought that it was a T-square.

  3. K
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    As one who lives with a retired architect, I have to say it looks pretty plush to me. I’m out there all day, kicking it for The Man, he’s sketching futuristic homes and polishing the baby’s toes. Not too shabby.

  4. Posted August 27, 2008 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I bet he handed him a giant gross and nails and Nelson just had it wrong. “Life is better up here, bleeding”

  5. Robert
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Architect sounds good. I’m looking for a new career. I just recently realized I’d kinda like living to see 50.

  6. Steve Swan
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    This is exactly how I began working in porn, only I wasn’t a bartender. I worked at the fish counter at Kroger.

  7. Robert
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    “Fish Counter” Now I get it, Steve! I never understood why that one film of yours was named that until just now. I just assumed the obvious.

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