Mario Villalobos

What Do You Do?

It was the middle of the day, and I was tired. I couldn’t fix the printer giving me issues, so I called the reseller who sold it to us. They tried walking me through all the steps I’ve already gone through, and I gave them even more steps I tried to get it up and running and they were stumped. I asked them to send a technician over to check it out because everyone needed this printer to work. They will. I was called over to the Elementary school computer lab to check out a computer that wouldn’t connect to the internet, but there was a class in session, and I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of it. I decided I’ll check it out later. I never did. I was tired, and I went to the District Office to make a cup of coffee.

The district clerk called me into her office to ask me a question about my paycheck.

“You’re getting about three hours overtime. Do you want me to put that on your next check, or do you want to apply it toward your vacation hours?”

I thought about it for a moment. “Last year, I flew down to Los Angeles for my friend’s birthday around May, and I was thinking of doing that again this year. I’m not sure, though.” I paused for a moment. “I really don’t have a life, so I don’t know if I’m ever gonna need vacation hours for a while.”

“What do you do? Are you like a gamer or something?”

“No. I write. I’m a writer. I’m writing a novel right now.”

“Oh really?”

“Well, I wrote one already, but I threw it away. I’m on my second draft, and I think I’m going to throw this one away, too, and start over again. Other than that, though? I work out.” I didn’t know how to answer the question.

“Oh, do you lift weights? Have you ever thought about working out at the gym here?”

“No. I just do like body weight exercises mostly. I used to weigh like seventy pounds more than I do now, and I’m kinda freaked about gaining any of that back, so I work out a lot. Like an hour a day.”

We went on about this for a little bit. We talked about my diet, her diet, and found we shared the same philosophy about food. I never knew that about her. The whole time we talked, though, I kept coming back to her earlier question: What do you do?

I didn’t know how to answer that. I write. I work out. I watch TV. I go to work. She asked me if I’m seeing anyone or if I’m interested in anyone. I told her no, I’m not. It’s complicated, I lied. I have no one. There’s no one.

I didn’t tell her about my blog or that I’m transcribing the Great Gatsby or that I read or that I’m on this journey to just be better. Later, after our conversation was over and I was thinking about it, I wondered why I didn’t just say I was trying to focus more on my life, to settle down, to focus, and to just be better. I was shy, I think. Maybe a little bit of humility held me back. I don’t know. This was the first time I could’ve actually talked to someone about what I’m doing and going through, but I chose not to. I don’t know why.

I need a life. I’ve been thinking about that all day. I told her I wake up at five every morning, and she scoffed at me and said she has trouble getting up at seven. I have to write my novel, I said.

I have to do what I have to do, is what I should’ve said. My life is doing what I have to do to live a great life. I want to live a great life. That’s what I should’ve said. Maybe next time.