As a regular reader of my blog ought to know, I, who am officially a student, engage in many more activities than the title seems to imply. I am, for example, an avid reader. And if you want to read, you need books. If you want books, you need money (yes, there are public libraries, but they never seem to have what I want to read, and I also just like having books - even though my bookcase is getting rather overpopulated). So now and then I go working somewhere or other to solve my perennial impecuniousness and to rise, at least temporarily, above the status of the poor, broke student. Typically, the type of work you can do as a student isn’t what you’d call riveting, but there are levels of tedium. Working at IKEA was a very tedious experience for me, so I’m glad I found a less tedious substitute. Thankfully, the substitute doesn’t involve dealing with a lot of people, so while I can’t say that I’m very mentally stimulated by my work, at least I’ve gotten rid of one of the hazards of working at IKEA, which is dealing with Very Idiotic People (I keep the acronym because client is supposed to be king, but as we know royalty is, sadly, often unaccompanied by intelligence).
Operose is, according to my dictionary, a ‘rare’ word (which means I love it), and it means ‘involving or displaying much industry or effort’ - a definition which seems to suggest that the word may be applied both to the people performing the work and the work itself. It derives from the Latin word ‘opus’, which means ‘work’. The related adjective ‘operosus’ (‘taking great pains’, ‘laborious’, ‘active’, ‘industrious’) became, one assumes, the immediate inspiration for its English derivative.
The first two weeks of September I’m working at a law firm. At the law firm, there are lawyers. The lawyers produce oodles of paperwork, and it’s up to their poor secretaries to process these heaps of paper. Considering the operose nature of this work, the secretaries don’t manage to get everything done, which means that they call in the aid of the daughter (my mom is one of the poor secretaries), who has nothing better to do anyway. The thing is that the poor secretaries were anticipating my arrival, so whenever a little odd job didn’t match their priorities, one assumes they uttered the timeless maxim “ain’t nobody got time for that!” and put it on the student-pile. This way, they could focus on more important things. Like solitaire.
As you may have inferred, the work I have to do is mostly paperwork. At the moment I’m archiving files - all the paper involved in juridical cases which have been closed. When I was first shown the room where all these files were piled up (they stuffed them in an empty office, where I’m presently residing), lots of people came in to thank me for my efforts, and good luck to clean up this mess. I bet they thought that the operosity of the work would get the better of me. But they didn’t keep into account my own operose nature. The thing is, when I am promised money, I become very industrious indeed, despite the boring or mind-numbing nature of the tasks I have to perform. Another perk of my current occupation is that I’m sitting alone in an office, which means that I can do things at my own leisure, and the way I want to do them. So I put on my headphones, rub my hands together and get started on that motherfucker. After a while, I find myself dancing a little in my chair, humming along to livin’ la vida loca while inking in numbers and names (the irony isn’t lost on me). Also, my chair has wheels. It also swivels. This adds tremendously to my job satisfaction.
All this to say that jobs, no matter how operose, can be as boring or as fun as you make them. Obviously, one job allows possibilities for fun more than another, but if you’re a little creative the options are numerous. I have to say that I don’t mind operose jobs as much as I’d thought. Though I prefer writing over any other occupation, when I’m writing I don’t really have the feeling that I’m working - writing is what I love doing, so it doesn’t feel like a job to me. The job I’m currently doing is a lot more operose than writing will ever be for me, but I have to say that at the end of the day I do feel a certain kind of satisfaction when I look at the amount of mess I somehow managed to clean up. What’s more, I know that others appreciate my hard work (which, let’s face it, isn’t really the case when it comes to writing - you do that mainly for your own enjoyment). And this knowledge makes the operose activities I’m expected to perform during my week of employment so much more worthwhile.