Onward Through the Fog September 2, 2010Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Odds&Sods, quotes, Toulouse Street.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
– Samuel Beckett
I’m not sure I should put this as the sig on my Counting House business email, but for the last seven or eight years through two jobs I’ve had a quote by the infamous UFO fraud Frank Scully at the bottom of all my emails. I’ve gotten many compliments on the quote–”"Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”–but only one person who asked me who he was. It was the middle of the night, maybe 2:00 am, on one of the interminable overnight computer system change calls I sometimes have to attend; just two project managers stuck on the phone with nothing to do while other people do the real work somewhere off screen. I was sitting on my porch smoking a cigarette, courtesy of my wireless headset, just killing time. I don’t know how old the woman on the other end of the line, whom I’ve never actually met, is but she has a 19 year old son, so we’re likely contemporaries. She thought it funny that no one else had asked who Scully was, when so many people over the years had said “great quote!” in that edgy, slightly over-caffeinated way of people who actually enjoy their jobs in The Cube. I think I might use it as the epigraph for that book of Lessons for the Business Life from The Teachings of Don Juan and Carlos Casteñeda if I ever get around to writing it.
It’s easy to wonder exactly what the fuck you’re doing with your life when you’re on a business call at 2:00 am Saturday morning, why this terribly pleasant woman and I aren’t having this conversation over a drink or maybe beignets and a cafe au lait instead of through crackly headsets, as if adding a few CPU to some distant server were the Apollo 11 mission. We both seem the sort of person who has been at the corporate grind long enough to exude not the electric enthusiasm of the people who run Moloch but instead a quiet confidence tempered with a certain cynicism, as if we both know we have better things we should be doing with our lives were it not for the obligations–some out of love, some out of stupidity–we have acquired over the years.
Houston comes back on the line, and I snub out my cigarette, and go back into the home office, feeling just a little better for the whole exercise because I wasn’t left alone with the technicians and the vendors, the hour of silence waiting for them to come back on the line, because of the feeling there is another person in the room you could actually talk to once we’ve all signed off for the night.