When Fun Becomes an Idol

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my father one day as we were working on a construction site. Dad owned his own plumbing business and had the bright idea of dragging me along to learn what it was like to get my hands dirty and to work.

I remember this day vividly. It was during Christmas break. It was bitterly cold outside and we were actually up early enough for it to be dark outside. These concepts—hard work, getting up early—seemed like cruel unusual punishment.

There I stood, layered in clothes in an attempt to block the bitter Chicago winter from freezing me to death, dreaming of being somewhere else, anywhere but in the place that required self-sacrifice.

On this day I asked Dad a single question. I said, “Dad, why do you do this, work this hard every day? It’s not very fun.” I thought maybe this would trigger some deep reservoir of sympathy from my father on behalf of his poor, downtrodden boy.