Chris Kelly,

Chris Kelly,

A weeklong electronic journal.
May 6 1998 3:30 AM

Chris Kelly,

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       I hate my job. I'm not being snotty, and I'm not trying to be cute. I don't hate it because it's television, I hate it because it's a job. I hated publishing, too. I hated magazines. I'm sure if I was ever in the Peace Corps, doing the toughest job I'd ever love, I'd hate it, too.
       There are workplaces where hating your job isn't a disadvantage. I'll bet the very best prison guards are the ones who hate it the most. They can channel it. They can take out their career frustrations on rapists and murderers and anyone who ever crossed Kenneth Starr.
       I have a friend who's a priest. When he joined up, they asked him what part of the job he was least looking forward to. He said he hated working with sick people, so they sent him to work with sick people. As a spiritual exercise, presumably, and to show him who was boss, him or You Know Who. I think, for a priest, hating your work can really come in handy. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Hate the work, love the hours.
       Hating working in television is a disadvantage when you work in television. Let me underline this again: I don't mean the world-weary, seen-it-all, old pro, William Holden in Network, cynical hate. I mean lazy hate. I'd rather be anywhere but here, drunk and playing with Legos hate.
       "You've gotta love it" isn't a compliment in television, I think. "You've gotta love it" is an order.
       It's actually inconsiderate to be writing for television and not love it, because there are people who would do the job for free.
       A story that reminds me of work:
       When I was just out of school I lived with two other guys at 50th and Ninth in a semi-abandoned building above a gay porn theater. It was 1988. The Worldwide Plaza was being built next-door. One day, one of the guys I lived with came across an old dentist's chair. (At his old dentist's, actually, but that's not the point.) We borrowed a van and lugged the chair back to the apartment. It was chrome and blue leather, and it leaked hydraulic fluid and weighed about 500 pounds. We cleaned it and repaired it and put it in the center of the living room, and pretty soon we were sick to death of it. So we put flyers up around town--the Upper West Side, mostly--saying we had it, and we'd be willing to sell it. One day a guy came over to look at it. He was in his late forties and he was scruffy and he was wearing fatigues. He said he was a Vietnam vet. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn't. Anyway, he liked the chair. He said he was building his very own life-size replica of the bridge from the starship Enterprise, and he was looking for a captain's chair. He also had come into some mad money for just this kind of impulse purchase. Because he had just been paid $300 to have sex with a seal. "Imagine," he said. "Actually getting paid to do something you'd do anyway."
       I always got the feeling, when George Bush was president, that he was having the time of his despicable, pinched, and fraudulent little life. He was getting paid for doing something he'd do anyway.
       On the other hand, you just know William Blake felt the exact same way when he was coloring.
       I envy them both.