Jon de Vos – In sync with Sisyphus
August 27, 2009
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a cunning king who outwitted Death. In doing so, he gained a long and bountiful second chance at life before dying again.
In the myth, Death, as you might expect, ruled in the end, and Sisyphus was condemned to the eternal punishment of rolling a large rock up a big hill. Every time he got to the top, it rolled back down, and he started over.
Of course, that describes most corporate jobs, so the lesson could be not to get one of those; they’re guaranteed to bog you down in your search for self-actualization. And like most corporate jobs, anybody could push a rock up a hill for a week, but theoretically, eternity being what it is, Sisyphus is still out there doing it somewhere. Remember, of course, that eternity was a lot longer back then.
The parallels to Sisyphus’ tribulations and my own in this next part are chilling.
One day, with no provocation at all, my wife tells me that we need a new sink. I respond, without even much thinking, how nice indeed that would be.
“Too bad,” I said, “about the worldwide porcelain shortage.” Next year, “Too bad I didn’t pick up a Reciprocating Sink Saw when they were on sale.”
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The year after, “Too bad,” I said, “that they’ve discovered that big association between new sinks and Alzheimer’s.”
Now, I hate to brag but I stalled this project for six years before unexpectedly switching tactics, she grabbed me by the ear and drug me to the hardware store to pick out a new sink.
“And a new faucet, and all the parts and gooey things he’ll need to put it together,” she added to the clerk. She glared at me evenly, arms crossed, as if daring me to put “Aw, Honey,” and “Rockies game” in the same sentence. A sharp twinge in my ear reminded me to keep real quiet.
So while you were out fishing or basking in our dwindling days of summer, I got to spend the weekend with my head stuck to the goo under my kitchen sink. Finally, with the help of a six ton hydraulic jack to jamb the disposal back up where it belonged, the weekend wore on like rolling a large rock up a big hill. My wife cheered me considerably, with helpful comments like “That doesn’t look straight to me, but what would I know?” and “I’m tired of looking for little thingies that ‘shot off into the carpet.’ Why don’t you make a beanie out of refrigerator magnets you could stick these little screws to?”
Finally, sure enough, upside down and packed under the sink, I encountered the most feared accident of the plumbing trade, which is of course, a large dog jumping on your stomach. The first time I turned the water on in the new sink, the plumbing spouted leaks like a Vatican fountain. Freeta Goodhome, our not-so-bright basset hound, panicked at the wailing curses coming from beneath the sink and leapt onto my recumbent gut for safety.
Garbage disposals should come with a warning label: NEVER SIT UPRIGHT WHILE INSTALLING THIS DEVICE, EVEN IF YOUR DOG JUMPS ON YOUR STOMACH. Because that’s exactly what I did, causing the disposal to fall off the sink and roll across the kitchen floor, trailing yards of broken plastic plumbing in its wake.
I started over the next day. Just like Sisyphus, rolling a large garbage disposal up a big sink.