The Challenge

I have already expressed my admiration for Richard Feynman elsewhere on this blog. It’s not an outrageous thing to do, and in fact in our current le-nerd-comme-nouveau-chic zeitgeist Richard Feynman specifically is some kind of a pop hero. One of the stories that resonated with me the most from Feynman’s “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” was the one, and you’ll forgive me for spoiling the punch line right here, where after reluctance over the bureaucracy normally associated with such things, Feynman agrees to teach a physics course only if he can do it without signing his name to paperwork more than twenty times. The administrators of the school have to leap flaming hoops to do this, and get Feynman teaching the course in exactly twenty signatures. All is well and good until the course is finished, and Feynman refuses to sign his own paycheck. He said twenty signatures, and he meant twenty signatures. It didn’t matter that that twenty first signature was the only one to his benefit. He wasn’t going to sign it. And in a move showing honor unknown in our times, the administration of the school found a way of paying him so that he didn’t need to sign anything, but regardless of the story’s positive conclusion, I admire Feynman’s determination.

I am always looking to challenge myself in a similar manner. And over the past two years in China I have absolutely hated working in a mall. I don’t like malls generally, hated this one I worked in specifically, and generally wished I was anywhere else. I often found myself promising that upon exodus from this terrible, terrible situation I would not step into another mall for an amount of time equal to the length of my working days in this mall.

But as of Nov 1st I am back in DC. Why not go into a mall here? Its not like I work in a mall. Malls are great here (they aren’t…)

Tough shit. I made my promise and I am sticking to it. so let’s do the math. There are 52 weeks in a year and I worked two years, making 104 weeks. I worked 5 days a week, which makes 520 working days over two years. I had ten days of annual leave the first year and thirteen the second, which brings the number down 497. Add to that about twenty more days off for national holidays and various miscellaneous things (like non working events where I was given the day off ) and that brings me down to 477 mall-free days.

Well, believe it or not, the last time I stepped foot in a mall was October 10th, 2017. That means that the next time I can walk into a mall is Jan 30, 2019.

May god have mercy on my soul.

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