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Cross Country 1-Yakusa

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  • Cross Country 1-Yakusa

    Posted by Barrett1<script language="JavaScript1.3" type="text/javascript"> document.write(timestamp(new Date(2004,4,21,23,33,0), dfrm, tfrm, 0, 0, 0, 0)); </script> (Member # 3214) on 22-05-2004 06:33<noscript>May 21, 2004 11:33 PM</noscript>:

    It’s been a quiet week in Cuyahoga Falls…

    Recently I heard a report about the “Yakusa,” the Mafia of Japan. Normally about 80,000 in size, it shrunk by 10,000 five years ago when some of its members tried to break away-but soon the number rose again. “A lot of these guys couldn’t make it in the ordinary world of work,” the commentator said. “It was too hard for them.”

    Toiling each day at two jobs the past few months, one of which required an enormous act of will just to show up, I was glad to head for the Cleveland airport on Tuesday to catch my flight for Baltimore. For me, the prospect of standing before a group of my peers for the next few days while all my expenses were paid and I earned a good deal more money seemed almost a guilty pleasure. No forms to fill out, imaginary goals to concoct, or people complaining to me about how much I wasn’t helping, I felt I could do this forever and never miss the familiarity of my office. In the back of my head I imagined myself a Yakusa choosing to go back into the easy life after some time performing the ordinary tasks of therapy.

    The first morning over fifty people showed up and the staff from Cross Country University acted as if I had some special aura about me-I was almost floating. And then it began. Seated on the aisle a man began to pierce me with a malevolent gaze and refused to participate in the lab portion of the course. His questions dripped sarcasm and his opinion of my answers was dismissive. He seemed unable to see my aura. As the day wore on he gave the class a real lesson in just how patient I can be, and though I know my exterior remained calm and cool I could feel the effort it took to remain that way. After class I collapsed in a chair. I thought about my friend on the aisle a lot and concluded that his anger had something to do with his mother. I’m not sure where I got this idea, but “mother” was one of the words that kept going through my head. Maybe that was it. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one trying to leave Baltimore after class and soon I began to appreciate the lack of traffic in Cuyahoga Falls more than I ordinarily do.

    After an uneventful class in Harrisburg I thought about how lucky I was to be driving into the Philadelphia airport downtown just as everybody else would be heading home in the opposite direction. I was feeling pretty clever until I was within about thirty miles of my destination. A parking lot loomed ahead- a lot normally referred to as 95 South. The guy on the radio was talking about how the Flyers had a match and the Phillies a game that night on either side of the Wachovia Center where some band whose name I’d never heard of had sold out their concert. There was a perfect storm of traffic swirling and growing between me and the hotel, and I was headed directly into the belly of this beast. Not to be too dramatic about it or anything. As I inched by the new football stadium the construction crew built two luxury suites and a nacho stand.

    Sixty-nine students this morning, and I don’t think any of them suspected that I’d been awake since 3AM. Their enthusiasm lifted me to new heights of erudition-at least until lunchtime. After that I felt a little punchy. I hid this by trying to appear very thoughtful. I have no idea if this worked because the last couple of hours are kind of blurry.

    Two hours ago the airline cancelled my flight to Cleveland. A few little tornados and all the planes stop flying. Geeesh…Ohio’s the birthplace of aviation for crying out loud-it says so right on our license plates. Can’t they do any better than that? (I was beyond punchy then but not quite ready to actually cry) When they announced the cancellation there was a rush toward the ticket counter. I added to the excitement by closing my necktie in my computer and nearly strangling myself while trying to put it back in my briefcase. I’m not kidding. The lady across the aisle closed her eyes in an effort to hide her mirth but couldn’t keep it in completely. Glad I was able to lighten her mood. We’re all a little punchy here.

    Now there are a few more hours of waiting before I depart and I’m able to take the time to reflect on my trip away from the hard life of actual practice and toward the easy and exciting occupation of public speaking. Doing this I’ve begun to feel less like a Yakusa opting for a return to his old ways just because he can’t take the grind like everyone else. Instead I’m reminded that this job has its own way of wearing you down. The contrast of special attention followed by hours of mind numbing boredom waiting for the next audience is perhaps what takes the most from you. It does me anyway.

    At least I’ve got the writing to help me through it. And I know there will be more lessons for me on the road this summer.

    I’m hoping you’ll follow along.

    (Each time I travel for Cross Country this summer I’ll put together a column about the trip)
    Last edited by bernard; 30-12-2005, 07:02 PM.
    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. L VINCI
    We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. I NEWTON

    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not a bit simpler.
    If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
    bernard
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